Request for Confidentiality Agreements Questioned
Medical providers in California have asked state regulators to investigate a confidentiality agreement that Blue Cross of California is asking providers and their attorneys to sign as part of contract negotiations, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Tammy Taylor, Blue Cross spokesperson, said the agreement is intended to prevent physicians and hospitals from selling or sharing confidential information with other providers or health plans.
Joe Dunn, CEO of the California Medical Association, said he opposes provisions of the confidentiality agreement that allow Blue Cross to:
- Have "sole and absolute discretion" over whether it will negotiate with a consultant or attorney selected by a physician or hospital to help with contract negotiations; and
- Require the attorney or consultant to hand over all confidential information and any copies, excerpts or materials that incorporate it.
Dietmar Grellman, senior vice president for managed care and professional services for the California Hospital Association, said the group opposes the agreement because it requires hospitals to use lawyers that are approved by Blue Cross.
Blue Cross says the agreement does not give the health plan absolute discretion over who a provider chooses as a consultant or attorney. The health plan said the agreement permits them to not negotiate with a consultant or require the provider to be present when the consultant negotiates.
Blue Cross recently revised its policy after receiving feedback from physicians and hospitals. The agreement no longer requires attorneys or consultants to release material that is protected under attorney-client privilege.
Taylor said Blue Cross will "continue to review the agreement and make any appropriate revisions" (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/2).