Health Care, Labor Organizations Urge Thompson to Make ‘Critical’ Changes to HIPAA Privacy Regulations
In a letter dated Tuesday, more than a two dozen health care and employer organizations -- including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Health Insurance Association of America and the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of health care organization chief executives -- urged HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to make "critical changes" to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rules. According to the organizations, revisions are "urgently needed" in several areas, including:
- Medical research: The letter states that the current regulations will have a "chilling effect" on medical research because they will "adversely affect" researchers' ability to gather and use patient information.
- Prior consent: The group advocates changes to the current regulations that would allow providers to use patient information for "treatment, payment and health care operations" without obtaining consent first.
- Oral communications: The organizations state that the current regulations would prohibit verbal communications between providers and patients that are "necessary for treatment."
- "Minimum necessary" provision: The groups advocate the elimination of the "confusing" provision that bans providers from using any personal medical information beyond the minimum necessary to accomplish a given purpose (Healthcare Leadership Council release, 10/24).
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