Last year, the FEHBlog included a post on a major employer initiative called Dossia that was intended to create an electronic health record databank. Dossia has caused consternation among privacy advocates because it sought to sidestep the HIPAA Privacy Rule through the use of patient authorizations. Now a contract dispute has cropped between the employers, such as Intel, who form the Dossia consortium and the vendor, Omnimedix Institute, that is creating the database. The vendor has stopped work on the project as a result of this dispute.
Also last year, the FEHBlog included reports on a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit opinion, Abigail Alliance v. von Eschenbach, holding in reliance on Washington v. Glucksberg,521 U.S. 702 (1997) that the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to U.S. Constitution protects the right of terminally ill people to access investigational new drugs that have cleared initial safety testing at phase I of the trials when the patient’s doctor holds the opinion that the drug is potentially life saving, even though its efficacy has not yet been proven. The D.C. Circuit reversed that decision in an 8-2 vote by the entire court on August 7 holding that “there is no fundamental right ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ of access to experimental drugs for the terminally ill.” The judges who were in the majority on the panel decision (Judge Rogers and Chief Judge Ginsburg) wrote a dissent.