Health Groups Outline Objections to HIPAA Privacy Rules for HHS Advisory Panel
Health industry leaders reiterated calls for revocation or revision of the HIPAA medical privacy rules on Tuesday, in testimony before an advisory panel of HHS' National Committee on Vital Health Statistics. Representatives of insurers, hospitals and quality-assurance organizations said that unclear or conflicting provisions about patient consent complicate efforts to provide care and give patients less control over their medical information. A Kaiser Permanente official said the rules will endanger patients, citing a recent instance in which Kaiser had to identify and contact patients who might have been taking a contaminated drug. Under the new regulations, that might not have been possible, because Kaiser would have needed prior consent to review the patients' records, she said. A Mayo Foundation official stated that prior consent requirements complicate routine procedures, such as appointment scheduling, for hospitals and health plans that share patient information through integrated information systems. The rules also prevent the National Committee for Quality Assurance from collecting data it needs to perform quality accreditation, said the group's general counsel. Furthermore, "panelists agreed" that the new rules force patients to provide "blanket consent" to the release of their medical information, instead of allowing a "meaningful choice" about how information is used. Barring revocation of the rules, which the Kaiser and NCQA representatives requested, panelists asked for clarification of what patient consent covers in regard to transmission of medical information, what happens when patients revoke consent, and how to treat information collected before the rules were implemented (Sirhal, Technology Daily, 8/22).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.