The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finalized data standards for all federally-funded surveys regarding race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status.  These data standards were developed as part of the implementation of section 4302 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The standards are effective upon publication today.   HHS will begin implementation of these new data standards in all new surveys, and at the time of major revisions to current surveys.  For now, these standards will apply only to population and household surveys “conducted or sponsored by HHS,” such as the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  They have not yet been applied to either health care data generally, or to the demographic data collection requirements for hospitals, physicians, and other providers to be eligible for the “meaningful use of certified electronic health records” under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

As noted earlier, HHS also is continuing with is “Data Progression Plan” to begin collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in these federally-funded surveys.  HHS is conducting research and receiving input to finalize the wording of these additional survey questions.

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