The intersection between privacy, big data, and competition #FTC-2018-0051-D-0002

Submission Number:
Ben Hertz
New Jersey
Initiative Name:
The intersection between privacy, big data, and competition
The healthcare realm has been hijacked by those who would like you to believe that data trumps patient care. Data is but one tool used to find best practices, make processes more efficient and have better outcomes, but at what expense? HIPAA protected data is stored, sold and transferred from PBMs to insurance companies to their own wholly owned subsidiary retail and mail order pharmacies. This data is then used as a tool for marketing and to drive (coerce) patients into switching their pharmacy based on a sales pitch by a marketing agent who promises lies and deceit. The healthcare realm especially, does much better with fair competition to promote patient satisfaction, better outcomes and more access for the poor, aged, sick and dying; some of the most vulnurable people in our communities. CVS/Caremark, specifically, is a PBM AND retail/mail order pharmacy. When they merged, we were promised a "firewall" between the data of caremark, which includes every contracted pharmacy's claims, dispensing and HIPAA protected patient information. That firewall has had cracks and is now completely broken. I have patients who tell me they receive letters and phone calls ALL THE TIME about switching to CVS pharmacy to save money. These tactics are ILLEGAL UNETHICAL and DANGEROUS. Independent pharmacy is dying even though they are the easiest accessed healthcare providers in the country, especially in Urban and Rural areas, where chain drug stores traditionally won't find it worth opening stores in. The independent pharmacy community is a caring one and one of the most important safetynet systems in this country.