Hospital access bill stalled in Senate

At the moment, efforts to amend the congressional mandate that restricts hospitals’ access to the Healthcare Integrity and Protec tion Data Bank (HIPDB) appear stalled, despite the unified support of health care trade associations and the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Senate bill 1231, the Medicare Fraud Preven tion and Enforcement Act of 1999, was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on June 17, 1999, and referred to the Senate Finance Commit tee, but so far no further action on the bill has been taken.

"One would think that the government would want hospitals to have access to this information," says Mark Kadzielski, the partner in charge of the West Coast health care practice of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Los Angeles. "That way, they could say, Aha, you still have this doctor on your staff despite the fact that you had access to this information and haven’t done anything about him.’ To that extent, the OIG is very supportive of the legislation that Sen. Collins has introduced, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s sitting there in Congress with all kinds of other pieces of legislation."

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA) is set this month to introduce legislation that would allow the public to access the National Prac ti tioner Data Bank (NPDB). "That’s a big kettle of fish," asserts Fay Rozovsky, JD, MPH, DFASHRM, principal of the Rozovsky Group in Richmond, VA. "Now, if the public can have access to that, why aren’t the hospitals getting access to HIPDB?"