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Notice

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

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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, CMS is proposing to modify or alter existing system of records titled “Medicare Exclusion Database” (MED), System No. 09-70-0534,” established at 67 Federal Register 8810 (February 26, 2002). 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.

Published routine use number 2 and 3 will be combined as one because both are written to complete the same or similar purpose. Disclosures allowed by published routine uses numbers 2, and 3 will be covered by a new routine use numbered 2 to permit release of information to “another Federal and/or State agency, agency of a State government, an agency established by State law, or its fiscal agent.” The scope of this routine use has been broadened to include State Medicaid agencies when disclosure of the information proved compatible with the purpose for which CMS collects the information. We will delete routine use number 5 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.

Finally, we will delete the section titled “Additional Circumstances Affecting Routine Use Disclosures,” that addresses “Protected Health Information (PHI)” and “small cell size.” The requirement for compliance with HHS regulation “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” does not apply because this system does not collect or maintain PHI. In addition, our policy to prohibit release if there is a possibility that an individual can be identified through “small cell size” is not applicable to the data maintained in this system.

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 this system of records is to collect and maintain information on individuals that have been excluded from receiving Medicare payments for any item or service furnished during the period when excluded from participation in the Medicare program. Information maintained in this system 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) facilitate research on the quality and effectiveness of care Start Printed Page 70968provided, as well as epidemiological projects; (4) 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 proposed routine uses, CMS invites comments on all portions of this notice. See EFFECTIVE DATES section for comment period.

EFFECTIVE DATES:

CMS filed a new system report with the Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on November 30, 2006. In any event, we will not disclose any information under a routine use until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register or 40 days after mailings to Congress, which ever is later. We may defer implementation of this system or on one or more of the routine uses listed below if we receive comments that persuade us to defer implementation.

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 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 Time zone.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lisa Eggleston, Health Insurance Specialist, Program Integrity Group, Office of Financial Management, CMS, Mail Stop C3-02-16, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850. The telephone number is (410) 786-6130 or e-mail lisa.eggleston@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 SOR

Authority for maintenance of this system is given under §§ 1128 A and B, and 1156 of the Social Security Act.

B. Collection and Maintenance of Data in the System

For purposes of this SOR, the system contains information related to individual health care providers who have been excluded from participation in Medicare and other Federal and State health care programs. The system contains information such as other provider identifiers used by those individuals, names, demographic information, including, but not limited to gender and date of birth, provider taxonomy information, address data, contact information, and taxpayers identifying number.

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 MED information that can be associated with an individual as provided for under “Section III. Proposed Routine Use Disclosures of Data in the System.” Both individually identifiable and non-individually-identifiable data may be disclosed under a routine use.

We will only disclose the minimum personal data necessary to achieve the purpose of MED. 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 the data are being collected; e.g., is to collect and maintain information on individuals that have been excluded from receiving Medicare payments for any item or service furnished during the period when excluded from participation in the Medicare program.

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 or disclosure of the record;

b. remove or destroy at the earliest time all individually-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 support Agency contractors, consultants, or grantees that have been contracted by the Agency to assist in accomplishment of a CMS function relating to the purposes for this system and who need access to the records in order to assist CMS.

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 a 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, consultant, or grantee 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 or consultant 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 Start Printed Page 70969benefits program funded in whole or in part with Federal funds, and/or

c. assist Federal/State Medicaid programs within the State.

Other Federal or State agencies in their administration of a Federal health program may require MED information in order to support evaluations and monitoring of Medicare claims information of beneficiaries, including proper payment for services provided.

MED data may be disclosed to a State agency, agency of a State government, an agency established by State law, or its fiscal agent for purposes of ensuring that no payments are made with respect to any item or service furnished by an individual during the period when excluded from participation in Medicare and other Federal and State health care programs.

MED data may potentially be released to the State only on those individuals who are either individuals excluded from participation in the Medicare and other Federal and State health care programs, or employers of excluded individuals, or are legal residents of the State, irrespective of the location of provider or supplier furnishing items or services.

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

MED data may be able to provide for research, evaluation, and epidemiological projects a broader longitudinal national perspective of the status of health care patients. CMS anticipates that many researchers will have legitimate requests to use these data in projects that could ultimately improve the care provided to patients and the policy that governs the care.

4. To assist 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, or 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 support a CMS contractor 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 programs.

We contemplate disclosing information under this routine use only in situations in which CMS may enter into a contract 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 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 support 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 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 MED information for the purpose of combating fraud, waste or abuse in such Federally-funded programs.

IV. Safeguards

CMS has safeguards in place for authorized users and monitors such users to ensure against 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: November 28, 2006.

John R. Dyer,

Chief Operating Officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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System Number: 09-70-0534

SYSTEM NAME:

“Medicare Exclusion Database (MED), HHS/CMS/OFM.

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 other remote locations.

CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM:

For purposes of this SOR, the system contains information related to individual health care providers who have been excluded from participation in Medicare and other Federal and State health care programs.

CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

The system contains information such as other provider identifiers used by those individuals, names, demographic information, including, but not limited to gender and date of birth, provider taxonomy information, address data, contact information, and taxpayers identifying number.

AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM:

Authority for maintenance of this system is given under §§ 1128 A and B, and 1156 of the Social Security Act.

PURPOSE(S) OF THE SYSTEM:

The primary purpose of this system of records is to collect and maintain information on individuals that have been excluded from receiving Medicare payments for any item or service furnished during the period when excluded from participation in the Medicare program. Information maintained in this system 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) facilitate research on the quality and effectiveness of care provided, as well as epidemiological projects; (4) 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:

To support Agency contractors, consultants, or CMS grantees that have been contracted by the Agency to assist in accomplishment of a CMS function relating to the purposes for this system and who need access to the records in order to assist CMS.

To assist another Federal or State agency, agency of a State government, an agency established by State law, or its fiscal agent to: Contribute to the accuracy of CMS's proper payment of Medicare benefits, 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 assist Federal/State Medicaid programs within the State.

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

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

The Agency or any component thereof, or any employee of the Agency in his or her official capacity, or any employee of the Agency in his or her individual capacity where the DOJ has agreed to represent the employee, or 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.

To support a CMS contractor 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 programs.

To support 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 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 magnetic media.

RETRIEVABILITY:

All records are accessible by UPIN/NPI or alpha (name) search. This system supports both on-line and batch access.

SAFEGUARDS:

CMS has safeguards in place for authorized users and monitors such users to ensure against 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 Start Printed Page 70971policies 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:

Records are maintained for a period of 15 years. 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, Program Integrity Group, Office of Financial Management, CMS, Mail Stop C3-02-16, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE:

For purpose of access, the subject individual health care provider should write to the system manager who will require the system name, National Provider Identifier, address, date of birth, and gender, and for verification purposes, the subject individual health care provider's name (woman's maiden name, if applicable), and social security number (SSN). Furnishing the SSN is voluntary, but it may make searching for a record easier and prevent delay.

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 health care provider should contact the systems manager named above, 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:

The Office of the Inspector General Exclusion file, Online Survey Certification and Reporting System file, National Supplier Clearing House file, Unique Physician Identification Number Registry, Medicare Contractor Provider Files, and Social Security Administration records to assist in a determination of the excluded individual's employers.

SYSTEMS EXEMPTED FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE ACT:

None.

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[FR Doc. E6-20718 Filed 12-6-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4120-03-P