Last Friday, a group of Health Care Companies issued a letter to the FCC requesting it to respond to their petition filed back in July 2016, which asked the FCC to clarify that the use of a health plan member’s telephone number under the TCPA is the same as that of the regulations governing use of those numbers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).
Setting the stage here — after the FCC issued its 2015 Omnibus Ruling, on July 28, 2016, petitioners Anthem, Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Wellcare Health Plans, Inc. and American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management filed a Joint Petition with the FCC requesting clarification on two issues: (1) that the provision of a phone number to a “covered entity” or “business associate” (as those terms are defined under HIPAA) constitutes prior express consent for non-telemarketing calls allowed under HIPAA for the purposes of treatment, payment, or health care operations; and (2) that the term “healthcare provider” in paragraphs 141 and 147 of the 2015 Omnibus TCPA Order encompasses “HIPAA covered entities and business associates.”
To date, the FCC has not issued any ruling on the Joint Petition. In their letter on Friday, the Health Care Companies argued the importance of unifying the TCPA with HIPAA to provide citizens with the care they need. They further highlighted that it’s been two years since the Joint Petition has been filed and five months since the D.C. Circuit’s decision in ACA International. Given this, the Health Care Companies encourage the FCC to grant their petition in order to facilitate the goal of providing timely and effective medical care – especially to the most needy population.
It remains to be seen whether a decision on the July 28, 2016 Petition is forthcoming in the near future. We hope to still be alive and kicking when the FCC makes it decision.