The National Community Pharmacists Association, in a comment letter to federal officials, commends multiple provisions of the proposed rule published in July to strengthen the HIPAA privacy and security rules, but requests clarification of other provisions.

The Alexandria, Va.-based association, for instance, strongly supports language in the proposed rule that makes clear business associates cannot use their access to protected health information beyond the purpose for which they have been retained by a covered entity.

But some provisions could conflict with contracts between pharmacies and insurers, the association notes. For instance, the proposed rule would enable self-paying patients to ask pharmacies and other providers to restrict disclosures of certain information to a payer. "In some cases, such action would violate the pharmacy's contract obligations to third-party payers such as pharmacy benefit managers," according to the association. Consequently, the association asks federal officials to issue guidance to clarify that a patient's request to exercise this right shall supersede any conflicting contractual obligation.

--Joseph Goedert


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