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June 2009 Archives

June 4, 2009

State of Virginia Mails 500,000 Notice Letters After Hack

From HealthLeadersMedia today:

Virginia officials this week began mailing direct individual notifications to more than a half-million people whose Social Security numbers may have been contained in the Prescription Monitoring Program database that was hacked into in April by a criminal demanding a $10 million ransom.

Read the rest here. Prior Supraspinatus coverage is here.

June 5, 2009

NYC Wins $28.6 Million Medicaid Case Against State

From yesterday's AP wire:

An appeals court has ruled that the state owes New York City $28.6 million in illegally "intercepted" Medicaid payments for home health care.

Read more here.

Nothing in today's NYTimes (that I could find) on this, though, and the closing quote of the AP piece is that the AG's office new nothing of the ruling.

June 8, 2009

Family Health Care Decisions Act

The NYSBA Health Law Section has made this Act a legislative priority. Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of Section leaders like Robert Swidler and Kathy Burke, the Act is closer to passage than ever before. Please lend your support to this Act by writing to your NYS Assemblyman or Senator and asking for his or her support of this important piece of legislation.

This recent New York Times editorial makes all the right points:

Even by the low standards of New York's procrastinating State Legislature, the 17-year stalemate over a measure to allow family members to make health decisions for incapacitated patients is unacceptable and inhumane.

The Family Health Care Decisions Act was first proposed by a blue-ribbon task force in 1992. All of these years later and families in New York still have no legal authority to give consent or object to medical treatment -- or even review medical records -- for incapacitated loved ones unless those patients have signed a health care proxy, a living will or other treatment instructions.

Since only about one-fifth of Americans have signed health care proxies or living wills, this is a big problem.

New York's Legislature has come close to approving a remedy only to get derailed by cultural warfare. Senate Republicans previously balked at allowing same-sex partners to serve as surrogates and insisted on superfluous wording covering a pregnant comatose woman. This problem must be fixed.

The proposed bill would bring New York law into alignment with most of the rest of the states. Family members and others close to the incapacitated patient would be empowered to make decisions. Those decisions would have to reflect, as best as possible, the patients' wishes and values. Where that is unknown, decisions would be made in the patient's best interests.

Family members or other surrogates could decline life-sustaining treatment only if it imposes an "excessive burden" on a terminally ill or permanently unconscious patient, or if the treatment would entail an inhumane amount of pain and suffering.

With the end of the legislative session in sight, the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, and the Senate majority leader, Malcolm Smith, need to arrange a prompt vote and get the bill to the desk of Gov. David Paterson for his signature. Patients and families should not have to wait any longer.

June 10, 2009

HHS on health care disparities; CDT on PHR; E-Health Policy in NYS program

HHS has released a new report on health care disparities in America. Pulling together with many grassroots and community representatives who shared yesterday (1) important information and experiences about the nature of health care disparities which exist in our current health care system, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius participated in a White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussion on the importance of reform that reduces such disparities and works towards health equity.Throughout the discussion, participants voiced concerns about the existence of and need to fill many voids in 'data collection' in order to support better health policy decisions and overall the health reform initiative.

On another note, below are excerpts from a public policy briefing developed by CDT (2) on the subject of PHR.(3)

Personal health records (PHRs) — records that are managed, controlled, and shared by individuals rather than their healthcare providers—hold the potential to transform healthcare by empowering consumers and patients to become key, informed decision-makers in their own care. These records increase individual control over personal data and permit individuals to record, store, and share relevant health information, including data that may be missing from official medical records, such as pain thresholds in performing various daily activities, details on the side effects of medication, and daily nutrition and exercise logs.
However, the public will be reluctant to use PHRs without reasonable privacy and security measures in place to protect their data. To date, no comprehensive set of privacy and security rules effectively governs PHRs. Congress has taken a step toward addressing this problem as part of the recent economic stimulus legislation: [HHS] and [FTC]are tasked with drafting joint recommendations regarding PHR privacy and security requirements by February 18, 2010 for those records not covered under the privacy and security regulations of HIPAA. In addition, PHR vendors are covered by new federal requirements that they notify individuals in the event of a breach of health data. However, more action is needed to build public trust in PHRs.
In this policy post, CDT advocates for the adoption of consistent policies to govern all PHRs. CDT also identifies the deficiencies of the current HIPAA Privacy Rule as applied to PHRs and offers some recommendations for establishing privacy and security protections for these tools.

(2)The Center for Democracy and Technology is a non-profit public interest organization focusing on communications media.

EVENT NOTE: THE HEALTH LAW SECTION'S SPECIAL COMMITTEE, E-HEALTH & INFO SYSTEMS, Chaired by Raul Tabora, Jr., presents on JUNE 18 2009 some of the practical issues affecting health info technology in New York State. Anna Colello, Esq. will moderate, NYS Office for Technology and DOH initiatives presented by Susan Beaudoin, Esq, GC (OFT ) and Dr. Patricia Hale, Deputy Director (OHITT at DOH)

June 22, 2009

City Hospital Death Getting Attention Again

From today's NY Times online:

City investigators admitted Friday that the staff at a city-run hospital in Brooklyn failed to provide basic medical care to a psychiatric patient who died on a waiting room floor, and then tried to cover up their neglect.

The rest is here.

Cuomo Closes With Last Ingenix Holdout; New Reg Announced

From the AG's website 6/18:

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Health Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) (“Health Net”) has agreed to end its relationship with Ingenix, the defective database insurers use to set rates, and contribute $1.6 million toward the creation of a new, independent database. . . . The agreement with Health Net marks the completion of the Attorney General’s industry-wide sweep of the health insurance industry and means that every insured New Yorker is now covered by his reforms.

Read the rest here.

On the same day, the Insurance Department unveiled the 43rd amendment to regulation No. 62, intended to codify the essence of the Cuomo agreements with insurers. See the Department's press release here and the draft regulation here.

June 26, 2009

Welcoming the New FDA.gov website; Transparency Blog with Comments

Commissioner Hamburg recently presented the new FDA.gov website (1-see the video).
The new website is easier to read and navigate around due to changes in space methods and an improved, helpful organization. It's a better guide and the space and content work well together.
Also, the new FDA Transparency Blog shows q's posted along with news items and notices-- readers' responses to FDA posts are steadily being posted and shared by many in the know. The comments make some good points. One comment posted on the blog indicated that a window can be transparent in order to see what is going on inside but it is more important to understand the meaning of what one sees and to establish trust about what you are seeing. (**)

The purpose of this Transparency Blog is to discuss various ways in which the [FDA] could provide information to the public about what FDA is doing, the bases for FDA’s decisions, and the processes used to make agency decisions. The blog is expected to run for the next 6 months (June through November 2009)....FDA provides blog posts and updates over the coming weeks asking for your feedback on these topics.

FDA established a Task Force to develop recommendations for making FDA processes and decision making more transparent to the public. The Task Force will continue to use your feedback to inform its work during the next six months. It's a good opportunity to participate. See their Comment Policy.(3)
(2) FDA Transparency Task Force
-- View Public Meeting
-- Participate in Blog
**Or something to that effect-see the FDA Transparency Blog comments under the 6/21 FDA q' post, comment by Melissa Langone, PhD, ARNP, CNS.

About June 2009

This page contains all entries posted to HEALTH LAW SECTION BLOG in June 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2009 is the previous archive.

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