NACDS applauds Senate version of economic stimulus package

2/10/2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Senate passed its version of the economic stimulus bill late Monday afternoon — just in time for President Barack Obama’s first primetime TV address since taking office — to the tune of $838 billion.

As the Senate’s interpretation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act moves to Congressional Conference and the final components of the package are hammered out, it appears that retail pharmacy has made some significant progress on some of the key privacy provisions contained in the HIT stimulus piece of the legislation.

Perhaps most notably, the Senate version makes key changes to the “marketing” provisions part of the bill, “to ensure that new privacy requirements will not interfere with the ability of  pharmacies to communicate with and treat patients to help improve health outcomes,” NACDS noted in a statement. 

In the House version of the bill, pharmacies would have been required to capture an authorization for each communication it makes to one of its patients for any reason, including refill reminders.

“Pharmacies are committed to protecting sensitive patient information. We applaud the Senate for taking action to ensure that pharmacists can communicate with patients about medication treatment options and alternatives,” said NACDS President and CEO Steve  Anderson.  

According to NACDS, the Senate bill also marks improvement on the “breach notification” requirements part of the bill; the House version left the definition of what constituted an actual “breach,” in which a patient’s information is inappropriately disclosed, too open-ended, including even the most inadvertent and harmless disclosures.

NACDS also applauded Senate leaders for boosting federal funding for state Medicaid programs. “It is vital that states have adequate funding to ensure that low-income patients have access to medications and pharmacy services,” said Anderson.  “As the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacies can help patients to stay healthy and prevent more costly forms of care such as emergency room visits.  We are very pleased that Congress is taking action to provide much-needed support for state Medicaid programs.”

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