The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics will send a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt recommending that patients be given the ability to control the movement of certain particularly sensitive categories of healthcare information over a proposed national health information network.
While the categories were not defined in the 11-page letter approved by the NCVHS at its meeting Feb. 20, examples were given that include many of the categories of clinical records earmarked by multiple state privacy laws for heightened privacy treatment and commonly requiring patient consent for disclosure, including genetic information and records for mental health, reproductive health, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed by Congress in 1996 and the subsequent HIPAA privacy rules developed by HHS in 2000 and amended in 2002, states may keep or add privacy protections that are more stringent than those in the federal rule.
No copy of the letter is available yet on the NCVHS Web site because it is being reworked by staff based on recommendations made at the meeting last week, according to Marjorie Greenberg, chief of classifications and public health data standards at the National Center for Health Statistics, who is the federal employee who serves as executive secretary to the NCVHS, an advisory body under HHS.
Hopefully, it will be sent to the secretary next week, Greenberg said, and the letter will be posted then.