OPM delays launch of health claims database

The Office of Personnel Management has delayed the launch of its new federal health claims database until next month.

In a Nov. 15 notice in the Federal Register, OPM said it would push back the deadline for the health database to Dec. 15 to accommodate more comments from the public. The database, originally set to launch on Monday, is required under the new health care reform law. The database will be used to set up data feeds to copy detailed individual health records from three major health insurance programs, including the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

Based on comments received thus far, OPM said it is considering revisions to the systems of records notice to provide greater specificity on the authorities for maintaining the system, clarify its intent to significantly limit circumstances under which personal information would be released and provide more detailed information on how records in the system would be protected and secured.

Privacy groups such as the Center for Democracy and Technology have urged OPM to reconsider its plans for the database, arguing that OPM should leave personal data where it originated instead of copying it into a single, government-run database. Privacy groups also believe OPM should release more details on how information will be used and protected.

The new deadline for comments on the proposal is Dec. 15. They can be submitted by e-mail to: gary.lukowski@opm.gov.

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