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Privacy Act of 1974; Report of a Modified or Altered System

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice of a Modified or Altered System of Records (SOR).

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, we are proposing to modify or alter an existing system of records titled, “Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS),” System No. 09-70-0532, established at 66 Federal Register 51961 (October 11, 2001). PECOS will collect information provided by the applicant related to identity, qualifications, practice locations, ownership, billing agency information, reassignment of benefits, electronic funds transfer, the national provider identifier (NPI), and related organizations. PECOS will also maintain information on business owners, chain home offices and provider/chain associations, managing/directing employees, partners, authorized and delegated representatives, supervising physicians of the supplier, staffing companies, ambulance vehicle information, and/or interpreting physicians and related technicians.

We propose to modify existing routine use number 1 that permits disclosure to agency contractors and consultants to include disclosure to CMS grantees who perform a task for the agency. CMS grantees, charged with completing projects or activities that require CMS data to carry out that activity, are classified separate from CMS contractors and/or consultants. The modified routine use will remain as routine use number 1. We will delete routine use number 3 authorizing disclosure to support constituent requests made to a congressional representative. If an authorization for the disclosure has been obtained from the data subject, then no routine use is needed. The Privacy Act allows for disclosures with the “prior written consent” of the data subject.

We propose to add a routine use to assist an individual or organization for research, evaluation or epidemiological projects related to the prevention of disease or disability, or the restoration or maintenance of health, and for payment related projects. The proposed routine use will be numbered as routine use number 3. We will broaden the scope of routine uses number 5 and 6, authorizing disclosures to combat fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to include combating “waste” which refers to specific beneficiary/recipient practices that result in unnecessary cost to all federally-funded health benefit programs.

We are modifying the language in the remaining routine uses to provide a proper explanation as to the need for the routine use and to provide clarity to CMS's intention to disclose individual-specific information contained in this system. The routine uses will then be prioritized and reordered according to their usage. We will also take the opportunity to update any sections of the system that were affected by the recent reorganization or because of the impact of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) (Public Law 108-173) provisions and to update language in the administrative sections to correspond with language used in other CMS SORs.

The primary purpose of the SOR is to: (1) Collect information for an applying provider/supplier and record the associations between the applicant and those who have an ownership or control interest in the entity; (2) permit informed enrollment decisions to be made based on past and present business history, any reported exclusions, sanctions and felonious behavior at their location or in multiple contractor jurisdictions; and, (3) ensure that correct payments are made under the Medicare program. Information retrieved from this SOR will also be disclosed to: (1) Support regulatory, reimbursement, and policy functions performed within the Agency or by a contractor, consultant, or CMS grantee; (2) assist another Federal or state agency, agency of a state government, an agency established by state law, or its fiscal agent; (3) assist an individual or organization for research, evaluation, or epidemiological projects; (5) support litigation involving the Agency; and (5) combat fraud, waste, and abuse in certain 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 routine uses, CMS invites comments on all portions of this notice. See Effective Dates section for comment period.

DATES:

Effective Dates: CMS filed a modified or altered system report with the Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, and the Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on October 5, 2006. To ensure that all parties have adequate time in which to comment, the modified system, including routine uses, will become effective 30 days from the publication of the notice, or 40 days from the date it was submitted to OMB and Congress, whichever is later, unless CMS receives comments that require alterations to this notice.

ADDRESSES:

The public should address comments to: CMS Privacy Officer, Division of Privacy Compliance, Enterprise Architecture and Strategy Group, Office of Information Services, CMS, Room N2-04-27, 7500 Security Start Printed Page 60537Boulevard, 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 time zone.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alisha Banks, Health Insurance Specialist, Division of Provider/Supplier Enrollment, Program Integrity Group, Office of Financial Management, CMS, C3-02-16, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850. Ms. Banks can be reached by telephone at 410-786-0671, or by e-mail at alisha.banks@cms.hhs.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Description of the Modified or Altered System of Records

A. Statutory and Regulatory Basis for System

The Authority for maintenance of the system is given under provisions of sections 1102(a) (Title 42 U.S.C. 1302(a)), 1128 (42 U.S.C. 1320a-7), 1814(a)) (42 U.S.C. 1395f(a)(1), 1815(a) (42 U.S.C. 1395g(a)), 1833(e) (42 U.S.C. 1395I(3)), 1871 (42 U.S.C. 1395hh), and 1886(d)(5)(F), (42 U.S.C. 1395ww(d)(5)(F) of the Social Security Act; 1842(r) (42 U.S.C. 1395u(r)); section 1124(a)(1) (42 U.S.C. 1320a-3(a)(1), and 1124A (42 U.S.C. 1320a-3a), section 4313, as amended, of the BBA of 1997; and section 31001(i) (31 U.S.C. 7701) of the DCIA (Pub. L. 104-134), as amended.

B. Collection and Maintenance of Data in the System

PECOS will collect information provided by an applicant related to identity, qualifications, practice locations, ownership, billing agency information, reassignment of benefits, electronic funds transfer, the NPI and related organizations. PECOS will also maintain information on business owners, chain home offices and provider/chain associations, managing/directing employees, partners, authorized and delegated officials, supervising physicians of the supplier, staffing companies, ambulance vehicle information, and/or interpreting physicians and related technicians.

This system of records will contain the names, social security numbers (SSN), date of birth (DOB), and employer identification numbers (EIN) and NPI's for each disclosing entity, owners, as well as managing/directing employees, with 5 percent or more ownership or control interest. Managing/directing employees include general manager, business managers, administrators, directors, and other individuals who exercise operational or managerial control over the provider/supplier. The system will also contain Medicare identification numbers (i.e., UPIN, OSCAR, PIN and the NPI), demographic data, professional data, past and present business history as well as information regarding any adverse actions such as exclusions, sanctions, and felonious behavior.

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

A. 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 PECOS 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 PECOS. CMS has the following policies and procedures concerning disclosures of information that will be maintained in the system. Disclosure of information from this 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 collect information for an applying provider/supplier and record the associations between the applicant and those who have an ownership or control interest in the entity.

2. Determines:

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

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

c. That 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; and

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

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 support agency contractors, consultants, or grantees, who have been engaged by the agency to assist in the performance of a service related to this collection 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, consultant or grantee 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, consultant or grantee from using or disclosing the information for any purpose other than that described in the contract and requires the contractor, consultant or grantee to return or destroy all information at the completion of the contract.

2. To assist another Federal or state agency, agency of a state government, an agency established by state law, or its fiscal agent to:

a. Contribute to the accuracy of CMS's proper payment of Medicare benefits,

b. 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, and/or

c. Evaluate and monitor the quality of home health care and contribute to the accuracy of health insurance operations.

Other Federal or state agencies in their administration of a Federal health program may require PECOS information in order to support Start Printed Page 60538evaluations and monitoring of reimbursement for services provided.

3. To assist an individual or organization for research, evaluation or epidemiological projects related to the prevention of disease or disability, or the restoration or maintenance of health, and for payment related projects.

The collected data will provide the research, evaluation and epidemiological projects a broader, longitudinal, national perspective of the data. CMS anticipates that many researchers will have legitimate requests to use these data in projects that could ultimately improve the care provided to Medicare patients and the policy that governs the care. CMS understands the concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of the release of data for a research use. Disclosure of data for research and evaluation purposes may involve aggregate data rather than individual-specific data.

4. To support 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.

Whenever CMS is involved in litigation, and occasionally when another party is involved in litigation and CMS's 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.

5. To assist 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, waste, 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, waste, 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.

6. To assist 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, waste, 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, waste, or abuse in such programs.

Other agencies may require PECOS information for the purpose of combating fraud, waste, and abuse in such Federally funded programs.

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 Modified System of Records on Individual Rights

CMS proposes to modify 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: October 4, 2006.

Charlene Frizzera,

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

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System No. 09-70-0532

SYSTEM NAME:

“Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS), HHS/CMS/OFM”

SECURITY CLASSIFICATION:

Level Three Privacy Act Sensitive Data

SYSTEM LOCATION:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Center, 7500 Security Boulevard, North Building, First Floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-Start Printed Page 605391850 and South Building, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM:

PECOS will collect information provided by an applicant related to identity, qualifications, practice locations, ownership, billing agency information, reassignment of benefits, electronic funds transfer, the national provider identifier (NPI) and related organizations. PECOS will also maintain information on business owners, chain home offices and provider/chain associations, managing/directing employees, partners, authorized and delegated officials, supervising physicians of the supplier, staffing companies, ambulance vehicle information, and/or interpreting physicians and related technicians.

CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

This system of records will contain the names, social security numbers (SSN), date of birth (DOB), and employer identification numbers (EIN) and NPI's for each disclosing entity, owners, as well as managing/directing employees, with 5 percent or more ownership or control interest. Managing/directing employees include general manager, business managers, administrators, directors, and other individuals who exercise operational or managerial control over the provider/supplier. The system will also contain Medicare identification numbers (i.e., UPIN, OSCAR, PIN and the NPI), demographic data, professional data, past and present business history as well as information regarding any adverse actions such as exclusions, sanctions, and felonious behavior.

AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM:

The Authority for maintenance of the system is given under provisions of sections 1102(a) (Title 42 U.S.C. 1302(a)), 1128 (42 U.S.C. 1320a-7), 1814(a)) (42 U.S.C. 1395f(a)(1), 1815(a) (42 U.S.C. 1395g(a)), 1833(e) (42 U.S.C. 1395I(3)), 1871 (42 U.S.C. 1395hh), and 1886(d)(5)(F), (42 U.S.C. 1395ww(d)(5)(F) of the Social Security Act; 1842(r) (42 U.S.C. 1395u(r)); section 1124(a)(1) (42 U.S.C. 1320a-3(a)(1), and 1124A (42 U.S.C. 1320a-3a), section 4313, as amended, of the BBA of 1997; and section 31001(i) (31 U.S.C. 7701) of the DCIA (Pub. L. 104-134), as amended.

PURPOSE(S) OF THE SYSTEM:

The primary purpose of the SOR is to: (1) Collect information for an applying provider/supplier and record the associations between the applicant and those who have an ownership or control interest in the entity; (2) permit informed enrollment decisions to be made based on past and present business history, any reported exclusions, sanctions and felonious behavior at their location or in multiple contractor jurisdictions; and, (3) ensure that correct payments are made under the Medicare program. Information retrieved from this SOR will also be disclosed to: (1) Support regulatory, reimbursement, and policy functions performed within the Agency or by a contractor, consultant, or CMS grantee; (2) assist another Federal or state agency, agency of a state government, an agency established by state law, or its fiscal agent; (3) assist an individual or organization for research, evaluation, or epidemiological projects; (5) support litigation involving the Agency; and (5) combat fraud, waste, and abuse in certain health benefits programs.

ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OR USERS AND THE PURPOSES OF SUCH USES:

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 support agency contractors, consultants, or grantees, who have been engaged by the agency to assist in the performance of a service related to this collection and who need to have access to the records in order to perform the activity.

2. To assist another Federal or state agency, agency of a state government, an agency established by state law, or its fiscal agent to:

a. Contribute to the accuracy of CMS's proper payment of Medicare benefits,

b. 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, and/or

c. Evaluate and monitor the quality of home health care and contribute to the accuracy of health insurance operations.

3. To assist an individual or organization for research, evaluation or epidemiological projects related to the prevention of disease or disability, or the restoration or maintenance of health, and for payment related projects.

4. To support 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.

5. To assist 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, waste, or abuse in such program.

6. To assist 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, waste, 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, waste, or abuse in such programs.

POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORING, RETRIEVING, ACCESSING, RETAINING, AND DISPOSING OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

STORAGE:

All records are stored on paper and magnetic disk.

RETRIEVABILITY:

Magnetic media records are retrieved by the name of the employees or other authorized individual and/or card key number. Paper records are retrieved alphabetically by name.

SAFEGUARDS:

CMS has safeguards in place for authorized users and monitors such Start Printed Page 60540users 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 identifiable data for a total period of 15 years from the date the information was collected.

SYSTEM MANAGERS AND ADDRESS:

Director, Division of Provider/Supplier Enrollment, Office of Financial Management, CMS, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE:

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

RECORD ACCESS PROCEDURE:

For purpose of access, use the same procedures outlined 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(a)(2).)

CONTESTING RECORD PROCEDURES:

The subject individual should contact the system manager named above, and reasonably identify the record 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:

Information contained in this system is received from the Form(s) CMS 855A, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Institutional Providers,” CMS 855B, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Clinic/Group Practices and Certain Other Providers,” CMS 855I, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Physician and Non-Physician Practitioners,” CMS 855R, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Reassignment of Medicare Benefits,” and CMS 855S, “Medicare Enrollment Application for Durable Medial Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS).”

SYSTEMS EXEMPTED FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE ACT:

None.

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[FR Doc. E6-16954 Filed 10-12-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4120-03-P