NACDS supports the adoption of HIT, emphasizes need for privacy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee citing perspectives and concerns about draft legislation to amend the Public Health Service Act. This correlates to a move made by NACDS on Monday, when it joined the Divided We Fail healthcare reform union, which is urging Congressional leaders to take action on health information technology and e-prescribing.
The committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing today titled Discussion Draft of Health Information Technology and Privacy Legislation.
In the letter, NACDS supports the adoption of HIT and urges the Committee to consider improvements to specific privacy provisions. The letter outlines NACDS’ history of support for HIT efforts, saying “The chain drug industry has been in of adopting standards and technology that are essential for the development of the forefront interoperable HIT to improve the quality of patient care.”
NACDS emphasized that it is critical that patients have confidence that health care providers will protect their sensitive information, and that there are strong laws to ensure this. However, some provisions may have unintended consequences, such as making it easier to divert prescription drugs for illicit purposes or preventing healthcare professionals from having sufficient information to treat patients appropriately.
NACDS also cited a concern regarding the lack of pharmacy representation on the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee, which the draft legislation currently includes. NACDS urges that the Committees include pharmacy-designated seats to represent the diversity of health care providers.
In the letter, the association also recognized the leading role that the Committee has played in encouraging the adoption of HIT standards and technology that are essential for the further development of interoperable HIT.
FDA, EMEA partner on inspections program
WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have joined together to pilot a good manufacturing practice inspections program.
Under the bilateral agreement, the program will apply to facilities in both the U.S. and the European Union. Also, joint inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredient facilities in countries outside the U.S. and the EU will be part of the program.
The agencies will pilot a GMP information exchange covering inspection schedules and results. Information on facilities that have been inspected would be shared so the agencies could get greater inspection coverage and better identify API production sites in countries outside the U.S. and the EU.
“The collaboration on inspections should result in more effective use of resources and a higher safety level of product from third countries,” the European Commission, which lists new GMP initiatives the two agencies undertake, said.
Study shows Mass. plan drops uninsurance rate, decreases expenses
CHICAGO According to a study performed by the Urban Institute, the uninsurance rate for Massachusetts adults has dropped by more than half and residents were paying less in out-of-pocket health expenses, as reported by the Associated Press.
Researchers from the institute interviewed 3,000 Massachusetts residents in the fall of 2006, just before the law took effect, and conducted a second round of interviews a year later. The uninsurance rate among working age adults dropped from 13 to 7 percent. The biggest drop was among poorer residents.
The finding reflects the fact that nearly 350,000 residents have been added to the ranks of the insured in Massachusetts under the law, which created a subsidized health care program for those earning less than three times the federal poverty level.
The share of adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $500 dropped by four percent. The percent of low-income adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $3,000 fell eight percent.
In another positive finding, low-income adults were more likely to have a place to go when they were sick and were more likely to visit a doctor for preventative care.
One fear—that employers would begin dropping health coverage as the new law took effect—hasn’t materialized, according to the report.