A dispute between Secretary of State Tom Schedler and the state Office of Group Benefits over records retention has been resolved.
Schedler and Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the agreement late Thursday ending a flap over improper records destruction.
The agreement maintains the microfilm archives required by the Secretary of State. But it allows OGB — the state health insurance program — to archive files that contain personal health information in facility which complies with federal law protecting patient privacy. Once the files have been microfilmed, the original paper documents will be destroyed.
OGB Chief Executive Officer Susan West said the facility has not yet been identified.
Other documents, including legal data and plan information, will be stored electronically in OGB’s FileNet system.
“We’ve worked closely with the Secretary of State to find a solution that met the needs of both offices,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a written statement. “Secretary Schedler and his staff take privacy very seriously and have worked with us to develop a system that protects our members and still retains these records appropriately.”
Files that were imaged and backed up on OGB’s system before the exception took effect will be reimaged and sent to the Secretary of State Office for microfilming. OGB will continue to share all non-claims-related documents with the Secretary of State’s Office as outlined in its records retention policy.
“Work to remediate OGB’s records disposal issues and minimize any future risks has been our priority,” said Schedler, whose office maintains state records.
“The retention of vital records by our state agencies is critically important, and the Archives is committed to not only monitoring compliance with state laws, but also maintaining public trust in their management,” Schedler said in a news release.
Last summer, Group Benefits stopped sending Schedler’s office original copies of member medical claims for preservation. OGB oversees health insurance for nearly a quarter million state employees, public school teachers, retirees and their families.
Schedler said he had “reason to believe” that the records had been destroyed without prior approval in violation of state law.
Nichols said records were still available, they just were not being shared with Schedler’s office because of OGB member privacy concerns.
Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.