The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, which represents nearly 50,000 fund raisers at nonprofit hospitals and medical centers, has been closely following a little-known provision of the roughly $800-billion economic stimulus legislation.
The association is concerned about the House version of the legislation, now in conference committee after passage in the Senate today. The House version of the bill contains provisions that would curtail fund raisers’ ability to gain access to patient information.
Currently, for purposes of identifying potential donors, fund raisers can obtain limited patient information such as name and address under laws that protect patients’ privacy by determining who has rights to their medical records and for what purpose. By removing fund raising from the definition of health-care operations in the law, the House bill in effect would bar fund raisers from being able to identify patients who may be interested in supporting their institutions.
The association hopes that the Senate version of the bill, which includes no such change, will prevail. It has issued an updated position paper on the legislation.