News Briefs

CMS offers database for record disclosures

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has created a Privacy Accountability Database to aid in tracking, reporting, and accounting the disclosures made from all CMS systems of records permitted by the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Information retrieved from the system will be used to support regulatory, reimbursement, and policy functions performed within the agency or by a contractor or consultant; support constituent requests made to a congressional representative; and support litigation involving the agency.

The announcement appeared in the Oct. 7 issue of the Federal Register. Go to:

Web site answers FAQs about HIPAA

A "Frequently Asked Questions" document about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule is posted on the Department of Health and Human Services’ web site.

The document answers questions ranging from privacy rights to compliance dates. "Does the rule create a government database with all individuals’ personal health information?" and "If patients request copies of their medical records, are they required to pay for them?" are examples of the subjects covered. The document also reminds health care providers that the compliance date for the privacy rule is April 14, 2003, or April 14, 2004, for small health plans. To see the questions, go to