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Notice

Privacy Act of 1974; Report of a New System of Records

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AGENCY:

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

ACTION:

Notice of a new System of Records (SOR).

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, we are proposing to establish a new SOR titled, “Medicare Bariatric Surgery System (MBSS), System No. 09-70-0570.” National coverage determinations (NCDs) are determinations made by the Secretary of HHS with respect to whether or not a particular item or service is covered nationally under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (the Act) section 1869(f)(1)(B). In order to be covered by Medicare, an item or service must fall within one or more benefit categories contained within Part A or Part B, and must not be otherwise excluded from coverage. Moreover, with limited exceptions, the expenses incurred for items or services must be “reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member,” section 1862(a)(1)(A). CMS has determined that the evidence is adequate to conclude that bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary in several patient groups where certain criteria for these patients have been met. The reasonable and necessary determination requires that patients meet the MBSS criteria set forth in the decision memorandum and are consistent with the trials discussed. Bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary only when facilities performing the surgery have full accreditation based on standards equivalent to or exceeding the CMS minimum standards. Collection of data elements related to bariatric surgery allows that determination to be made.

The purpose of this system is to provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery, for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary. Information retrieved from this system will also be disclosed to: (1) Support regulatory, reimbursement, and policy functions performed within the agency or by a contractor or consultant; (2) assist another Federal or state agency with information to enable such agency to administer a Federal health benefits program, or to enable such agency to fulfill a requirement of Federal statute or regulation that implements a health benefits program funded in whole or in part with Federal funds; (3) assist an individual or organization for a research project or in support of an evaluation project related to the prevention of disease or disability, the restoration or maintenance of health, or payment related projects; (4) support constituent requests made to a congressional representative; (5) support litigation involving the agency; and (6) combat fraud and abuse in certain Federally-funded health benefits programs. We have provided background information about the modified system in the Supplementary Information section below. Although the Privacy Act requires only that CMS provide an opportunity for interested persons to comment on the proposed routine uses, CMS invites comments on all portions of this notice. See EFFECTIVE DATES section for comment period.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

CMS filed a new SOR report with the Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, and the Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on 12/29/2005. We will not disclose any information under a routine use until 30 days after publication. We may defer implementation of this system or one or more of the routine use statements listed below if we receive comments that persuade us to defer implementation.

ADDRESSES:

The public should address comment to the CMS Privacy Officer, Mail Stop N2-04-27, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850. Comments received will be available for review at this location, by appointment, during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., eastern daylight time.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rosemarie Hakim, Epidemiologist, Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, CMS, Mail Stop C1-09-06, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1849. She may be contacted via telephone at (410) 786-3934, or via e-mail at Rosemarie.Hakim@cms.hhs.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States with over 60% of the population classified as overweight or obese. One form of treatment for obesity is bariatric surgery. In May 2005 CMS began a reconsideration of the NCD on BS for Medicare beneficiaries submitted by the American Society for bariatric surgery, the American Obesity Association, and others. The requestors included the following bariatric surgery procedures in their request for reconsideration: (1) Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass, (2) Biliopancreatic Diversion, (3) Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding, and (4) Vertical Gastric Banding. CMS has determined that the evidence is adequate to conclude that bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have a Body Mass Index ≥ 35, at least one co-morbidity related to morbid obesity, and have been unsuccessful with medical treatment for obesity.

I. Description of the Proposed System of Records

A. Statutory and Regulatory Basis for SOR

The statutory authority for linking coverage decisions to the collection of additional data is derived from section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Act, which states that Medicare may not provide payment for items and services unless they are “reasonable and necessary” for the treatment of illness or injury. In some cases, CMS will determine that an item or service is only reasonable and necessary when specific data collections accompany the provisions of the service. In these cases, the collection of data is required to ensure that the care provided to individual patients will improve health outcomes. Start Printed Page 938

B. Collection and Maintenance of Data in the System

The data collection should include baseline patient characteristics. The information collected will include but is not limited to: Name, address, telephone number, Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), geographic location, race/ethnicity, gender, and date of birth, as well as, background information relating to Medicare or Medicaid issues.

II. Agency Policies, Procedures, and Restrictions on the Routine Use

A. Agency Policies, Procedures, and Restrictions on the Routine Use

The Privacy Act permits us to disclose information without an individual's consent if the information is to be used for a purpose that is compatible with the purpose(s) for which the information was collected. Any such disclosure of data is known as a “routine use.” The government will only release MBSS information that can be associated with an individual as provided for under “Section III. Proposed Routine Use Disclosures of Data in the System.” Both identifiable and non-identifiable data may be disclosed under a routine use.

We will only collect the minimum personal data necessary to achieve the purpose of MBSS. CMS has the following policies and procedures concerning disclosures of information that will be maintained in the system. Disclosure of information from the system will be approved only to the extent necessary to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure and only after CMS:

1. Determines that the use or disclosure is consistent with the reason that the data is being collected, e.g., to provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery, for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary.

2. Determines that:

a. The purpose for which the disclosure is to be made can only be accomplished if the record is provided in individually identifiable form;

b. The purpose for which the disclosure is to be made is of sufficient importance to warrant the effect and/or risk on the privacy of the individual that additional exposure of the record might bring; and

c. There is a strong probability that the proposed use of the data would in fact accomplish the stated purpose(s).

3. Requires the information recipient to:

a. Establish administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent unauthorized use of disclosure of the record;

b. Remove or destroy at the earliest time all patient-identifiable information; and

c. Agree to not use or disclose the information for any purpose other than the stated purpose under which the information was disclosed.

4. Determines that the data are valid and reliable.

III. Proposed Routine Use Disclosures of Data in the System

A. The Privacy Act allows us to disclose information without an individual's consent if the information is to be used for a purpose that is compatible with the purpose(s) for which the information was collected. Any such compatible use of data is known as a “routine use.” The proposed routine uses in this system meet the compatibility requirement of the Privacy Act. We are proposing to establish the following routine use disclosures of information maintained in the system:

1. To agency contractors or consultants who have been engaged by the agency to assist in the performance of a service related to this system and who need to have access to the records in order to perform the activity.

We contemplate disclosing information under this routine use only in situations in which CMS may enter into a contractual or similar agreement with a third party to assist in accomplishing CMS function relating to purposes for this system.

CMS occasionally contracts out certain of its functions when doing so would contribute to effective and efficient operations. CMS must be able to give a contractor or consultant whatever information is necessary for the contractor or consultant to fulfill its duties. In these situations, safeguards are provided in the contract prohibiting the contractor or consultant from using or disclosing the information for any purpose other than that described in the contract and requires the contractor or consultant to return or destroy all information at the completion of the contract.

2. To another Federal or state agency to:

a. Provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary,

b. Contribute to the accuracy of CMS's proper payment of Medicare benefits, and/or

c. Enable such agency to administer a Federal health benefits program, or as necessary to enable such agency to fulfill a requirement of a Federal statute or regulation that implements a health benefits program funded in whole or in part with Federal funds.

Other Federal or state agencies in their administration of a Federal health program may require MBSS information in order to provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary.

3. To an individual or organization for a research project or in support of an evaluation project related to the prevention of disease or disability, the restoration or maintenance of health, or payment related projects.

The MBSS data will provide for research or in support of evaluation projects, a broader, national perspective of the status of Medicare beneficiaries. CMS anticipates that many researchers will have legitimate requests to use these data in projects that could ultimately improve the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries and the policy that governs the care.

4. To a member of Congress or to a Congressional staff member in response to an inquiry of the Congressional office made at the written request of the constituent about whom the record is maintained.

Beneficiaries sometimes request the help of a member of Congress in resolving an issue relating to a matter before CMS. The member of Congress then writes CMS, and CMS must be able to give sufficient information to be responsive to the inquiry.

5. To the Department of Justice (DOJ), court or adjudicatory body when:

a. The agency or any component thereof, or

b. Any employee of the agency in his or her official capacity, or

c. Any employee of the agency in his or her individual capacity where the DOJ has agreed to represent the employee, or

d. The United States Government is a party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation, and by careful review, CMS determines that the records are both relevant and necessary to the litigation and that the use of such records by the DOJ, court or adjudicatory body is compatible with Start Printed Page 939the purpose for which the agency collected the records.

Whenever CMS is involved in litigation, and occasionally when another party is involved in litigation and CMS' policies or operations could be affected by the outcome of the litigation, CMS would be able to disclose information to the DOJ, court or adjudicatory body involved.

6. To a CMS contractor (including, but not necessarily limited to fiscal intermediaries and carriers) that assists in the administration of a CMS-administered health benefits program, or to a grantee of a CMS-administered grant program, when disclosure is deemed reasonably necessary by CMS to prevent, deter, discover, detect, investigate, examine, prosecute, sue with respect to, defend against, correct, remedy, or otherwise combat fraud or abuse in such program.

We contemplate disclosing information under this routine use only in situations in which CMS may enter into a contractual relationship or grant with a third party to assist in accomplishing CMS functions relating to the purpose of combating fraud and abuse.

CMS occasionally contracts out certain of its functions and makes grants when doing so would contribute to effective and efficient operations. CMS must be able to give a contractor or grantee whatever information is necessary for the contractor or grantee to fulfill its duties. In these situations, safeguards are provided in the contract prohibiting the contractor or grantee from using or disclosing the information for any purpose other than that described in the contract and requiring the contractor or grantee to return or destroy all information.

7. To another Federal agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States (including any State or local governmental agency), that administers, or that has the authority to investigate potential fraud or abuse in, a health benefits program funded in whole or in part by Federal funds, when disclosure is deemed reasonably necessary by CMS to prevent, deter, discover, detect, investigate, examine, prosecute, sue with respect to, defend against, correct, remedy, or otherwise combat fraud or abuse in such programs.

Other agencies may require MBSS information for the purpose of combating fraud and abuse in such Federally-funded programs.

B. Additional Provisions Affecting Routine Use Disclosures

To the extent this system contains Protected Health Information (PHI) as defined by HHS regulation “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” (45 CFR Parts 160 and 164, 65 FR 82462 (12-28-00), Subparts A and E) disclosures of such PHI that are otherwise authorized by these routine uses may only be made if, and as, permitted or required by the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information.”

In addition, our policy will be to prohibit release even of data not directly identifiable, except pursuant to one of the routine uses or if required by law, if we determine there is a possibility that an individual can be identified through implicit deduction based on small cell sizes (instances where the patient population is so small that individuals who are familiar with the enrollees could, because of the small size, use this information to deduce the identity of the beneficiary).

IV. Safeguards

CMS has safeguards in place for authorized users and monitors such users to ensure against excessive or unauthorized use. Personnel having access to the system have been trained in the Privacy Act and information security requirements. Employees who maintain records in this system are instructed not to release data until the intended recipient agrees to implement appropriate management, operational and technical safeguards sufficient to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information and information systems and to prevent unauthorized access.

This system will conform to all applicable Federal laws and regulations and Federal, HHS, and CMS policies and standards as they relate to information security and data privacy. These laws and regulations may apply but are not limited to: The Privacy Act of 1974; the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002; the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; the E-Government Act of 2002, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996; the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, and the corresponding implementing regulations. OMB Circular A-130, Management of Federal Resources, Appendix III, Security of Federal Automated Information Resources also applies. Federal, HHS, and CMS policies and standards include but are not limited to: All pertinent National Institute of Standards and Technology publications; the HHS Information Systems Program Handbook and the CMS Information Security Handbook.

V. Effects of the Proposed System of Records on Individual Rights

CMS proposes to establish this system in accordance with the principles and requirements of the Privacy Act and will collect, use, and disseminate information only as prescribed therein. Data in this system will be subject to the authorized releases in accordance with the routine uses identified in this system of records.

CMS will take precautionary measures (see item IV above) to minimize the risks of unauthorized access to the records and the potential harm to individual privacy or other personal or property rights of patients whose data are maintained in the system. CMS will collect only that information necessary to perform the system's functions. In addition, CMS will make disclosure from the proposed system only with consent of the subject individual, or his/her legal representative, or in accordance with an applicable exception provision of the Privacy Act. CMS, therefore, does not anticipate an unfavorable effect on individual privacy as a result of information relating to individuals.

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Dated: December 27, 2005.

Lori Davis,

Acting Chief Operating Officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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System No. 09-70-0570

System Name:

“Medicare Bariatric Surgery System (MBSS);” HHS/CMS/OCSQ.

Security Classification:

Level Three Privacy Act Sensitive Data.

System Location:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Center, 7500 Security Boulevard, North Building, First Floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850 and at various co-locations of CMS contractors.

Categories of Individuals Covered by the System:

CMS has determined that the evidence is adequate to conclude that bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have a Body Mass Index ≥ 35, at least one co-morbidity related to morbid obesity, and have been unsuccessful with medical treatment for obesity. Start Printed Page 940

Categories of Records in the System:

The data collection should include baseline patient characteristics. The information collected will include but is not limited to: name, address, telephone number, Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), geographic location, race/ethnicity, gender, and date of birth, as well as, background information relating to Medicare or Medicaid issues.

Authority for Maintenance of the System:

The statutory authority for linking coverage decisions to the collection of additional data is derived from Sec. 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act (the Act), which states that Medicare may not provide payment for items and services unless they are “reasonable and necessary” for the treatment of illness or injury. In some cases, CMS will determine that an item or service is only reasonable and necessary when specific data collections accompany the provision of the service. In these cases, the collection of data is required to ensure that the care provided to individual patients will improve health outcomes.

Purpose(s) of the System:

The purpose of this system is to provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery, for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary. Information retrieved from this system will also be disclosed to: (1) Support regulatory, reimbursement, and policy functions performed within the agency or by a contractor or consultant; (2) assist another Federal or state agency with information to enable such agency to administer a Federal health benefits program, or to enable such agency to fulfill a requirement of Federal statute or regulation that implements a health benefits program funded in whole or in part with Federal funds; (3) assist an individual or organization for a research project or in support of an evaluation project related to the prevention of disease or disability, the restoration or maintenance of health, or payment related projects; (4) support constituent requests made to a congressional representative; (5) support litigation involving the agency; and (6) combat fraud and abuse in certain Federally-funded health benefits programs.

Routine Uses of Records Maintained in the System, Including Categories of Users and the Purposes of Such Uses:

A. The Privacy Act allows us to disclose information without an individual's consent if the information is to be used for a purpose that is compatible with the purpose(s) for which the information was collected. Any such compatible use of data is known as a “routine use.” The proposed routine uses in this system meet the compatibility requirement of the Privacy Act. We are proposing to establish the following routine use disclosures of information maintained in the system:

1. To agency contractors or consultants who have been engaged by the agency to assist in the performance of a service related to this system of records and who need to have access to the records in order to perform the activity.

2. To another Federal or State agency to:

A. Provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery, and assist in the collection of data on patients receiving bariatric surgery, for a data collection process to assure patient safety and protection, and to determine that the bariatric surgery is reasonable and necessary,

b. Contribute to the accuracy of CMS's proper payment of Medicare benefits, and/or

c. Enable such agency to administer a Federal health benefits program, or as necessary to enable such agency to fulfill a requirement of a Federal statute or regulation that implements a health benefits program funded in whole or in part with Federal funds.

3. To an individual or organization for a research project or in support of an evaluation project related to the prevention of disease or disability, the restoration or maintenance of health, or payment related projects.

4. To a member of Congress or to a Congressional staff member in response to an inquiry of the Congressional office made at the written request of the constituent about whom the record is maintained.

5. To the Department of Justice (DOJ), court or adjudicatory body when:

a. The agency or any component thereof, or

b. Any employee of the agency in his or her official capacity, or

c. Any employee of the agency in his or her individual capacity where the DOJ has agreed to represent the employee, or

d. The United States Government is a party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation, and by careful review, CMS determines that the records are both relevant and necessary to the litigation and that the use of such records by the DOJ, court or adjudicatory body is compatible with the purpose for which the agency collected the records.

6. To a CMS contractor (including, but not necessarily limited to fiscal intermediaries and carriers) that assists in the administration of a CMS-administered health benefits program, or to a grantee of a CMS-administered grant program, when disclosure is deemed reasonably necessary by CMS to prevent, deter, discover, detect, investigate, examine, prosecute, sue with respect to, defend against, correct, remedy, or otherwise combat fraud or abuse in such program.

7. To another Federal agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States (including any State or local governmental agency), that administers, or that has the authority to investigate potential fraud or abuse in, a health benefits program funded in whole or in part by Federal funds, when disclosure is deemed reasonably necessary by CMS to prevent, deter, discover, detect, investigate, examine, prosecute, sue with respect to, defend against, correct, remedy, or otherwise combat fraud or abuse in such programs.

B. Additional Provisions Affecting Routine Use Disclosures.

To the extent this system contains Protected Health Information (PHI) as defined by HHS regulation “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” (45 CFR parts 160 and 164, 65 FR 82462 (12-28-00), subparts A and E. Disclosures of such PHI that are otherwise authorized by these routine uses may only be made if, and as, permitted or required by the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information.”

In addition, our policy will be to prohibit release even of data not directly identifiable, except pursuant to one of the routine uses or if required by law, if we determine there is a possibility that an individual can be identified through implicit deduction based on small cell sizes (instances where the patient population is so small that individuals who are familiar with the enrollees could, because of the small size, use this information to deduce the identity of the beneficiary).

Policies and Practices for Storing, Retrieving, Accessing, Retaining, and Disposing of Records in the System:

Storage:

All records are stored electronically.

Retrievability:

The data are retrieved by an individual identifier i.e., name of beneficiary or provider. Start Printed Page 941

Safeguards:

CMS has safeguards in place for authorized users and monitors such users to ensure against excessive or unauthorized use. Personnel having access to the system have been trained in the Privacy Act and information security requirements. Employees who maintain records in this system are instructed not to release data until the intended recipient agrees to implement appropriate management, operational and technical safeguards sufficient to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information and information systems and to prevent unauthorized access.

This system will conform to all applicable Federal laws and regulations and Federal, HHS, and CMS policies and standards as they relate to information security and data privacy. These laws and regulations may apply but are not limited to: The Privacy Act of 1974; the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002; the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; the E-Government Act of 2002, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996; the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, and the corresponding implementing regulations. OMB Circular A-130, Management of Federal Resources, Appendix III, Security of Federal Automated Information Resources also applies. Federal, HHS, and CMS policies and standards include but are not limited to: All pertinent National Institute of Standards and Technology publications; the HHS Information Systems Program Handbook and the CMS Information Security Handbook.

Retention and Disposal:

CMS will retain information for a total period of 6 years and 3 months. All claims-related records are encompassed by the document preservation order and will be retained until notification is received from DOJ.

System Manager and Address:

Director, Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, CMS, Room S2-26-17, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

Notification Procedure:

For the purpose of access, the subject individual should write to the system manager who will require the system name, address, age, gender, and for verification purposes, the subject individual's name (woman's maiden name, if applicable).

Record Access Procedure:

For the purpose of access, use the same procedures outlines in Notification Procedures above. Requestors should also reasonably specify the record contents being sought. (These procedures are in accordance with Department regulation 45 CFR 5b.5).

Contesting Records Procedures:

The subject individual should contact the system manager named above and reasonable identify the records and specify the information to be contested. State the corrective action sought and the reasons for the correction with supporting justification. (These procedures are in accordance with Department regulation 45 CFR 5b.7).

Record Source Categories:

Records maintained in this system are derived from Carrier and Fiscal Intermediary Systems of Records, Common Working File System of Records, clinics, institutions, hospitals and group practices performing the procedures, and outside registries and professional interest groups.

Systems Exempted From Certain Provisions of the Act:

None.

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[FR Doc. E5-8331 Filed 1-5-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4120-03-P