Comment: One comment expressed concern regarding the application of the "minimum necessary" standard to investigations of health care providers under the TRICARE (formerly the CHAMPUS) program. The comment also expressed concern that health care providers would be able to avoid providing their records to such investigators because the proposed § 164.510 exceptions were not mandatory disclosures.
Response: In our view, neither the minimum necessary standard nor the final §§ 164.510 and 164.512 permissive disclosures will impede such investigations. The regulation requires covered entities to make all reasonable efforts not to disclose more than the minimum amount of protected health information necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the use or disclosure. This requirement, however, does not apply to uses or disclosures that are required by law. See § 164.502(b)(2)(iv). Thus, if the disclosure to the investigators is required by law, the minimum necessary standard will not apply. Additionally, the final rule provides that covered entities rely, if such reliance is reasonable, on assertions from public officials about what information is reasonably necessary for the purpose for which it is being sought. See § 164.514(d)(3)(iii).
We disagree with the assertion that providers will be able to avoid providing their records to investigators. Nothing in this rule permits covered entities to avoid disclosures required by other laws.