Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Under current law, a hospital can use certain patient information to identify potential donors without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A provision in the proposed Stimulus Package would seem to preclude this. Section 4406(b) in the House bill HR 1 would remove the word "fundraising" from the HIPAA regulations' definition of "health care operations" at 45 CFR 164.501. According to a statement by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), this proposed change "would effectively deny the development offices of not-for-profit hospitals and health care providers access to names and addresses of patients in their own institutions, information that is protected and used for the sole purpose of philanthropic outreach." It's not apparent who proposed the change or why. "It is worth noting," notes the AHP statement, "that six years after HIPAA patient privacy rules went into effect there are virtually no examples of violations in the context of fundraising efforts".