HIPAA

World Privacy Forum testifies on genetic privacy and consumer data marketing issues

Genetic privacy | SACGHS — The World Privacy Forum gave testimony to the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society regarding privacy issues stemming from direct-to-consumer advertising and consumer-initiated genetic testing. The World Privacy Forum noted that a great deal of consumer health data circulates outside the protections of HIPAA, and a substantial market for this kind of consumer health data already exists. Genetic data about consumers that is acquired outside the clinical context and is not subject to the protections of HIPAA (for example, through consumer-initiated genetic testing) will likely not be any more protected than other forms of consumers’ health-related information from the current demands of the market. However, the consequences of leakage of genetic information about consumers into the marketing stream could have potentially negative consequences for both those consumers and their blood relatives. The World Privacy Forum urged the committee to include specific recommendations about privacy in its upcoming report to the Secretary, and also urged the committee to work with other federal agencies to set up a pre-market oversight structure that includes significant and meaningful privacy protections for genetic testing occurring outside of the protections of HIPAA.

World Privacy Forum Requests That CMS Bring Its Medicare Part D Data Activities Under HIPAA and Require Certificates of Confidentiality to Protect Patient Privacy

Medical privacy | Medicare Part D — In comments filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the World Privacy Forum requested that CMS give effect to data restrictions that Congress has expressly included in the law. WPF also requested that CMS include in its standard agreements for use of CMS data a requirement that the recipient obtain a certification of confidentiality for all identifiable CMS data. WPF also requested that CMS perform a regulatory impact analysis and publish a system of records notice.

World Privacy Forum Comments on Privacy Issues Relating to a Nationwide Genetic Research Project

Genetic privacy — The collection of DNA material from 500,000 to 1,000,000 or more individuals as part of a large U.S. medical research project raises many challenging ethical, legal, and privacy issues. An advisory committee reporting to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ( the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society) has published a detailed analysis of the issues such a project and its associated databases and biobanks would raise in a draft report. The committee’s final report and policy recommendations will be submitted to the Secretary of HHS. The World Privacy Forum has submitted public comments on the draft; the comments include key policy recommendations.
The Forum’s recommendations include the need to provide protection from compelled disclosure of information, the necessity for a full-time project privacy officer with enforcement power, the need to address identifiability issues, and the need for a far-reaching and robust privacy policy that exceeds the requirements of HIPAA, among other recommendations.

Public Comments: June 2006 – Medicaid Program and State Children’s Health Insurance Program Systems Notice

The World Privacy Forum submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requesting that it amend a Systems of Records Notice to address an oversight and address other privacy issues. The Forum requested that CMS add a reference in the system notice to Executive Order 13181 of December 20, 2000, “To Protect the Privacy of Protected Health Information in Oversight Investigations.” The Forum also requested that the routine uses be revised to reflect the HIPAA requirements as appropriate when the disclosures involve HIPAA records.

Public Comments: November 2005 – WPF Files Comments About Proposed Changes to HIPAA

Five groups joined the World Privacy Forum in asking for changes to be made to a proposed rule on how medical healthcare claims attachments are handled electronically. The World Privacy Forum and the EFF, EPIC, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Activism and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) asked that physicians be given more control over what parts of health records they send electronically to insurance companies, that psychotherapy notes not be included when sending health records for insurance payment, and that the HIPAA Privacy Rule be rigorously applied to scanned health records.