Group Sends Thompson Letter to Protest New Privacy Rules
Thirty-nine members of the Healthcare Leadership Council sent HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson a letter yesterday, saying that medical privacy rules written by the Clinton administration should be postponed, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The rules, which were passed during Clinton's last days in office and would take effect two years after they become policy on Feb. 26, would prevent patients' information from being distributed without their consent. But the Healthcare Leadership Council, a self-described "coalition of chief executives of the nation's leading health care companies and institutions," called the rules "disruptive" and said that the health care industry would be "severely slowed" if they are allowed to take effect. Healthcare Leadership Council President Mary Grealy said, "There is clearly a need for a new public comment period on these regulations. It is essential we protect the privacy of patients and equally essential that we place no regulatory barriers in the way of health care professionals" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/5).
The letter states that the final regulation includes "substantive changes" from the initial proposed regulation, prompting the group's call for a new comment period. In addition, the group's letter states its concern about a new requirement that pharmacists cannot fill or refill prescriptions unless written consent is on file at the pharmacy. The group maintains the requirement will "create delays for patients" (letter text, 2/5). Grealy said, "With over three billion prescriptions filled in the United States last year, disruption in even a small percentage of these transactions could adversely impact millions of patients." Among the groups signing the letter were the American Pharmaceutical Organization, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.