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Jan 11
NAPHSIS Executive Director Search

The National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), the national membership organization representing vital records and vital statistics offices and professionals in the United States, seeks an excellent communicator and collaborative leader to build on the credibility and established reputation of this maturing nonprofit organization. At some point, each of us will need to use a birth certificate to prove our identity, citizenship or family relationship or a death certificate to handle affairs after the death of a loved one. Vital records serve as a keystone source of legal information on births, deaths and other vital events and provide statistical data that are essential components of monitoring public health. These data also serve as the source of key indicators of population health. In addition to evaluating public health trends and guiding limited health resources, responding to disasters, and exploring electronic health data exchange; NAPHSIS and its members are active partners with law enforcement agencies and benefit paying organizations in the fight to prevent fraud and identity theft.

The next executive director of NAPHSIS will have a credible platform to build toward dynamic growth and innovation through ever-changing technology and the expanded use of vital statistics throughout the public health and fraud prevention arenas. The next executive director of NAPHSIS will be challenged with balancing the public health application of vital statistics, the business and operational needs of vital records offices, with the non-governmental agency and business demand for data.

To view the full position description click here!

Jan 09
2017 Annual Meeting in Memphis, TN

 

Welcome to the homepage of the 2017 NAPHSIS Annual Meeting! This year's meeting will be held Monday, June 5 – Thursday, June 8 in ​Memphis, TN. (Please note that our meeting's start day has shifted to Monday in order to ease travel for our attendees!)

The NAPHSIS annual meeting is the only educational and networking event that brings together professionals in vital records and public health statistics from each state and territory in the nation. This year's meeting will provide our members and industry partners a unique opportunity to collaborate on common interests around public health and personal identity. 

Hotel Information

The conference hotel is The Peabody Memphis located at 149 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103. The Peabody Memphis is a beautiful and historic hotel in the downtown Memphis area, and we are certain our attendees will enjoy experiencing "the South's Grand Hotel". NAPHSIS has obtained a special room rate for our attendees of $173 for a single room (plus tax and fees). To make a reservation, call The Peabody's reservation line at 1-800-PEABODY and state that you are coming as part of the 'National Association for Public Health Statistics & Information Systems' meeting. Reservations must be made by May 2nd - after that date attendees may not be able to secure the special rate.  

Program

Click here to download the draft agenda for the meeting! The latest draft agenda can always be found on this page.

The 2017 Annual Meeting Program Committee is looking for your ideas for the agenda! Click here to download the Call for Abstracts. Completed forms are due by March 10.

Meeting Registration

Click here to complete and submit a registration form! (Please indicate on the form HOW you will be making payment - check or credit card - and then see below for full payment instructions.)

Registration Payment Information

To pay by Check: Send a check payable to 'NAPHSIS' to our office at 962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 701, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Be sure to include the attendee name(s) on the check! The registration fees are:

Non-Members - $775

Members - $650

1 Day Attendee - $350

To pay by Credit Card: Online payments by credit card are handled by PayPal. To pay for one or more registrations by credit card, click the appropriate PayPal payment link below and enter your payment information: 
Non-Member Registration - $775
Member Registration - $650
1 Day Registration - $350

Nov 29
The Post-Election Funding Landscape

Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, is NAPHSIS's Washington representative and leads our advocacy efforts in the nation's capital.

On November 6th, Americans elected Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States, and in January he and Congress will begin working on their priorities, unhindered by a split government. The change in leadership will alter the landscape for investments in vital records data. However, as budget cuts loom, new initiatives of the forthcoming Administration may leave room for completing the modernization of electronic death reporting systems in states that have yet to adopt the technology.

 

The first clear impact of the election results will be in the decision on how to fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017. Current funding for the government is scheduled to run out on December 9th, meaning that the 114th Congress will have to pass some legislation to keep the government running. However, with the overall win in the election, Republicans are pushing for a continuing resolution, or "CR", through March that will allow them to make final spending decisions for the year after President-elect Trump is sworn into office. Should they be successful, programs that affect NAPHSIS members, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, will be funded at current levels through March.

 

After March, the future of federal funding for nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, which include all of the core functions that government provides for the benefit of all, such as NCHS, remains uncertain. While there is generally bipartisan support for NCHS and vital records systems, the bigger budget debate threatens the availability of funds for appropriators to use to support this wide range of activities. Already, the caps on NDD have put pressure on otherwise popular bipartisan programs. However, it is possible that the cap in NDD gets even tighter as some Members of Congress have proposed increasing the caps on defense spending and paying for the increases with further cuts to NDD. So, while the Center is not on the forefront for cuts, it could see a reduction in its annual appropriation due simply to the unavailability of funds.

 

Following 2017, funds will continue to be capped through FY 2021. Though, the caps will continue to be uncertain as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 runs out and caps return to sequestration levels. In the past, Congress has provided relief from these austere levels, but with the new leadership in Washington, it appears unlikely that additional funding will be restored for NDD programs. Rather, it is possible that Congress will act to further reduce this pool of funding through offsets for additional defense funding or as part of a deficit reduction strategy, such as the Trump Penny Plan.

 

In spite of the tightening NDD budget, there could be new opportunities to expand and improve upon electronic vital records systems. One of the most talked about plans of the President-elect is his plan to invest in infrastructure during his first 100 days in office. While much of the plan will focus on roads, bridges, and air traffic control, President-elect Trump has also left his vision for infrastructure open to "pressing domestic infrastructure needs." NAPHSIS believes that bringing birth and death records into the 21st Century is critical to our public health infrastructure and therefore a pressing domestic need. We will continue to monitor for opportunities to update vital records systems as part of any infrastructure plan put forth, as well as continue to advocate for funding for the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nov 01
Vital Records Role in Restoring Voters Trust

November 1, 2016

By Anthony Stout, Manager of EVVE Products & Services for NAPHSIS 

The 2016 general election is just one week away, and if you have been following the presidential campaign coverage over the last few weeks, you likely have heard Donald Trump's allegations that this year's election is "rigged." The presidential nominee has pointed to several theories on how his opposition may affect the outcome of the election—individuals voting in multiple states or multiple times in the same state. NAPHSIS is in no position to validate these claims, but one that does hold water is the number of deceased Americans who remain on voter registration rosters despite their obvious inability to cast a ballot.  

Current systems for updating voter registrations following a death vary widely from state to state, and rely on a hodgepodge of reporting systems to remove deceased voters from the rolls. Some states rely on the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File"—which has been widely documented as inaccurate and inconsistent—to identify voters who have passed. Other states rely on reporting from next of kin and funeral homes—also often unreliable—and some election registrars even use inactivity to remove registered voters from the list. Some states turn to their own vital records offices to verify deaths. While these records are accurate and complete for individuals who have died in that state, they may not account for state residents who have died out of state. The result: many of these methods fail in removing dead voters from the rolls. For example, Maryland found as many as 20,000 dead voters in their registers in 2013.[1] 

We've heard no widespread reports of "zombie voters," but the potential for voting under a false identity is left open when these former voters remain registered. When living citizens are mistaken for dead and removed from voter registration rolls erroneously, their civil liberties are infringed. While these rare cases are unlikely to swing an election in one direction or another, their mere existence contributes to an erosion of trust in the validity of our elections, our electoral system, and our democracy itself. 

Fortunately, this does not need to be the case.  

For 28 states and counting, there is a better way for removing deceased voters from registration lists. That way is through EVVE--the Electronic Verification of Vital Events System. EVVE, operated by NAPHSIS, provides users with the ability to quickly, reliably, and securely verify and certify birth and death information across state lines. Electronic inquiries from authorized users can be matched against over 250 million birth and death records from the vital records jurisdictions nationwide. An electronic response from the state or jurisdiction either verifies or denies a match within matter of seconds, allowing election officials to quickly, accurately, and securely compare their voter registration records with death records across the nation.  

No other system on the market provides more complete access to original vital records than EVVE, and none is a more accurate and complete verification of fact of death. As more and more vital records jurisdictions come online with EVVE, the system will have the capacity to provide services to all electoral jurisdictions to aid them in cleaning their voter lists come election time. So, while NAPHSIS may not be able to fix all of your election year woes, it can certainly help election boards calm speculations that zombies will be casting votes. Don't forget to vote November 8! 

For more information about EVVE, please contact Anthony Stout at astout@naphsis.org or 301.563.6005.

[1] http://marylandreporter.com/2014/03/18/dead-voters-would-be-removed-from-voter-rolls-faster/

Oct 04
Holding Pattern for NCHS

Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, is NAPHSIS's Washington representative and leads our advocacy efforts in the nation's capital.

Happy New Fiscal Year!

Before leaving town to campaign, late last week lawmakers passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open until December 9—narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. That means the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and other federal agencies will function on autopilot long past the general election in November. Until then, NCHS remains in a holding pattern.

To review, earlier this summer the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved spending bills for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The House bill proposed holding NCHS funding flat at $160.4 million, while the Senate proposed a $4.4 million cut for the agency. Based on conversations with staff, this proposed cut was not in response to anything NCHS has done (or hasn't done); it is simply a function of an austere funding environment where difficult choices must be made about how best to invest limited resources. As a positive note, both bills included language directing NCHS to prioritize vital statistics and the modernization of birth and death data reporting, which indicates that lawmakers continue to value this work even if they lack the resources to fund it.

Since July, lawmakers have taken no further action on the HHS spending bills, and they aren't expected to before the end of the year. Instead, between now and December 9, congressional staff under the direction of lawmakers will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate appropriations bills and draft an "omnibus" spending bill, that is, a massive spending package that includes funding for all federal agencies. NAPHSIS has joined other organizations from the public health and statistical communities in asking appropriators to provide NCHS at least $160.4 million in final spending legislation for fiscal 2017. As we write:

We greatly appreciate the Congress's longstanding leadership in securing steady and sustained funding increases for NCHS, including your most recent efforts to modernize the National Vital Statistics System—moving from paper-based to electronic filing of birth and death statistics—with a $5 million increase in FY 2016. Because of your efforts, NCHS has funded states and territories to speed the release of birth and death statistics of public health importance, including infant mortality and prescription drug overdose deaths…

Nevertheless, NCHS purchasing power is down considerably; current base funding remains below FY 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation, and the agency is unlikely to recover the roughly $25 million in supplemental Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars lost in 2013. NCHS also faces increasing costs on the horizon associated with state and vendor contracts and other infrastructure challenges related to survey redesign and systems improvements that will require additional resources far beyond current levels. Additional cuts—however seemingly minor, as proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee—have a demonstrably negative effect on the agency's programs, survey data, and staff.

Your leadership has helped NCHS rebuild after many years of underinvestment and stabilize the collection of essential health data. Cuts to NCHS's budget now will only undermine progress made over the last decade.

If past is prologue, it's very likely that lawmakers, despite their best efforts, will be unable to negotiate final spending levels for federal agencies in the lame duck session and will simply pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running through September 30, 2017. In the last two general election cycles, Congress was unable to complete its work and ultimately passed year-long continuing resolutions for HHS agencies, programs, and projects. Under that scenario, NCHS funding will remain essentially flat—minus a small cut that all agencies will bear to ensure spending complies with caps on 2017 spending. However, in real terms the agency will lose purchasing power given increased costs associated with inflation and contractual obligations.

The appropriations end game (and more!) will come into clearer focus after the November 8 election. Before to check back for our post-election analysis!

Aug 23
Timeliness and Quality of Death Data Essential for Public Health
By Patricia W. Potrzebowski, Ph.D.
 
Dr. Potrzebowski is the Executive Director of NAPHSIS.

 

Headlines of recent weeks have showcased the value of vital statistics in monitoring the public's health and formulating policies to help improve it. Specifically, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) made news recently when it released new 2015 data, collected and reported by the vital records jurisdictions, suggesting that deaths linked to drug overdoses continue to trend upward. If policymakers are to successfully address the nationwide, opioid epidemic they must first understand the scope of the problem. Vital statistics provide the baseline data foundational to any effective solution.

However, data are only relevant if they are timely and of high quality. Over the last decade, NCHS and the vital records jurisdictions have made significant progress in improving the timeliness and quality of vital statistics. Most states now have operational electronic birth and death registration systems (EBRS and EDRS) and have adopted the 2003 Standard Certificates of Birth, Death, and Fetal Death, which are much more robust sources of public health data than the older 1989 certificates. In addition, NCHS has funded states and territories to speed the release of birth and death statistics of public health importance, including infant mortality and prescription drug overdose deaths. In fact, the percentage of mortality records reported to NCHS within 10 days has increased from 14 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2015. This is a vast improvement over the vital statistics of old—often released by NCHS more than a year and sometimes as long as four years after the life event was recorded by the vital records jurisdiction.

Despite these improvements in timeliness, there remains much room for improvement on data quality. The Pew Charitable Trust's publication "STATELINE" recently chronicled the inaccuracies and/or lack of specificity associated with reporting drug overdoses as a cause of death:

Eighty-one percent of all death certificates for a drug overdose listed the drugs involved. That number has grown in the last five years as states have stepped up efforts to include more details about overdoses to help develop strategies for quelling the opioid epidemic…

Still, it's taken some states longer than others to relay the message to the coroners, physicians and medical examiners who fill out death certificates at the local level, he said.

And it's not just cause of death. Basic demographic information also presents a challenge. A NCHS report, The Validity of Race and Hispanic-origin Reporting on Death Certificates in the United States: An Update, finds that about 40 percent of death certificates for Native American and Alaskan Native individuals are marked with the wrong race or ethnicity. Those kinds of mistakes could significantly skew information on causes of death for specific racial and ethnic groups. For policymakers and practitioners, an effective public health response requires data about the problem itself and whom is most affected.

The major challenge in improving the quality of death statistics in particular is the complex nature of death reporting itself, with many steps performed by many actors from start to finish (our 2013 report, outlines the process in detail here). When a death occurs, data providers—funeral homes for demographic data and physicians, coroners, and medical examiners for cause of death data—submit data to the vital records jurisdiction to be reviewed and official registered. As STATELINE reports:

Although death certificates are roughly standard nationwide, the professionals who fill them out and the agencies they report to vary widely from state to state. As a result, the accuracy, timeliness and specificity of death certificates varies. In many states, inadequate funding for vital statistics and death investigations is also an issue…In many states, a chief medical examiner, typically working within the state health department, ensures standards in determining the cause of death. Others have county medical examiners or elected coroners, or a hybrid system of both…States with centralized systems and medical examiners trained in medicine and forensic pathology are more complete in reporting details about the cause of death…

Many vital records jurisdictions haven't the resources to expand technical assistance to medical certifiers including physicians, medical examiners, and coroners. A STATELINE article from last year also chronicled these challenges, and states' efforts to address them.

NAPHSIS has turned its attention to encouraging lawmakers to invest in efforts that will improve vital statistics data quality, including for example, efforts to educate medical certifiers about electronic death registration systems and encouraging their widespread use.  Many medical certifiers do not fully understand that the information they enter on the death certificate is critical to identify public health problems like drug overdoses, and that providing complete, accurate, and detailed information on each death certificate is essential. Unfortunately, state vital records offices generally do not have adequate resources to get this message across to all medical certifiers. There needs to be a broader recognition among policymakers and funding authorities that investing in public health data systems like vital records is critical so that we can measure the effectiveness of our prevention efforts.

For more information about vital statistics and efforts to improve them, please click here.

Jul 27
2016 Southern Regional Meeting

Welcome to the information page for the upcoming 2016 Southern Regional Meeting! The meeting will take place October 20-21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Agenda 
Click here to download the latest meeting agenda!

Hotel Information
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN  37214

We have arranged for a special room rate for our attendees of $161/night, plus tax.  (Please note: the room rate for our group changed from $145/night due to an increase in the government per diem rates for Nashville in August 2016.)   Please click here to make your room reservations at the Gaylord Opryland website.  Our room block will be open for reservations until the close of business on September 21.

Meeting Registration
The registration fee for this year's meeting will be $125.00.

Click here to register!

Pay by Credit Card

Jul 22
Mixed Bag for NCHS, Vital Records Funding (…Again)

​Emily J. Holubowich, MPP, Senior Vice President, Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates

Congress has left our nation's capital for seven weeks of conventions and campaigning, but not before a flurry of activity on the appropriations front. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved spending legislation for the Department of Health and Human Services, and within it, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Once again, it's a mixed bag for vital statistics funding.

To review, in February the President requested (see pages 270-278, here) flat funding of $160.4 million to maintain NCHS's capacity to support ongoing health and health care surveys, and to support the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). Within these activities, the administration planned to continue efforts to improve the timeliness and quality of vital statistics for further use in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Surveillance Strategy, and "to continue working with states and partners on strategies to expand electronic death reporting to provide faster, better quality data on deaths of public health importance, including prescription drug overdose deaths."

The House Appropriations Committee accepted the President's request for flat funding, and offered accompanying language relevant to NVSS:

National Vital Statistics System (NVSS).—The Committee continues support for the NVSS which provides data on births, deaths, and fetal deaths. The Committee is aware most States now or will soon have operational electronic birth and death registration systems, an essential tool in monitoring public health and fighting waste, fraud, and abuse in Federal entitlement programs. The Committee requests CDC ensure the modernization of the CDC system to ensure interoperability with state systems.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, on the other hand, cuts NCHS's budget by about $4.3 million. On a positive note, it provides language directing NCHS to prioritize vital statistics modernization:

Modernizing Vital Statistics-While most States now or will soon have operational electronic birth and death registration systems, many do not have the resources to maximize electronic death reporting or to modernize their systems to keep pace with new technology. The Committee encourages CDC to support States in upgrading antiquated systems and improving the quality and accuracy of vital statistics reporting.

What happens next is anyone's guess. Political and fiscal dynamics make it unlikely that either chamber's "Labor-HHS" spending bill will see any floor time. With just four working weeks remaining before the September 30 fiscal year's end—and the recess for the November elections—the best-case scenario is a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running. Worst-case scenario: a six-month continuing resolution that kicks the can until March. And in the end, all Congress may be able to accomplish is a year-long continuing resolution at current levels if passing final spending legislation proves too hard in the lame duck scramble. It wouldn't be the first time; Congress has passed year-long continuing resolutions in the last two presidential election cycles.

Jul 19
2016 Midwestern Regional Meeting

Welcome to the information page for the upcoming 2016 Midwestern Regional Meeting! The meeting will take place September 13-14, 2016 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Agenda
Click here to download the draft agenda!

Hotel Information
Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn
505 North Fifth Street
Rapid City, SD  57701

We have arranged for a special room rate for our attendees of $89/night (plus tax). To make a reservation, call the hotel front desk at 605-348-4000 and state that you are coming for the 'NAPHSIS meeting'. Our room block will be open for reservations until the close of business on August 11.

Meeting Registration
The registration fee for this year's meeting will be $125.00.

Click here to Register

Online Payment   

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Jul 17
2016 Western Regional Meeting

​Welcome to the information page for the upcoming 2016 Western Regional Meeting! The meeting will take place September 29 - 30 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Agenda
Click here to download the agenda!

Hotel Information
Courtyard Marriott Downtown Salt Lake City
100 South 385 West
Salt Lake City, UT  84101

We have arranged for a special room rate for our attendees of $129/night (plus tax). To make a hotel reservation, please click here to book your room online. Our room block will be open for reservations until the close of business on September 2.

Meeting Registration
The registration fee for this year's meeting will be $125.00.

Click here to Register

Online Payment     

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