The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) is in the process of notifying approximately 9,600 Medicaid Salud! Plan and Fee for Service members that a breach of protected health information (PHI) occurred in March.
On April 9, 2010, HSD was notified by DentaQuest, a claims processing company and New Mexico’s Medicaid dental benefits provider, that a breach of PHI occurred. Notification of the breach is also being reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to federal rules, according to HSD.
HSD stated it is working closely with its health plan partners that administer the Salud! Plan (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Lovelace Health Plan, Molina Healthcare and Presbyterian Health Plan) to ensure that they as well as all subcontractors develop appropriate security measures to eliminate incidents of this kind from occurring in the future.
An employee of Chicago-based West Monroe Partners, a subcontractor of DentaQuest, had an unencrypted laptop in the trunk of a car in Chicago when the vehicle was stolen on March 20. According to HSD, the laptop contained patient information including: names, health plan identification numbers--which in some cases are Social Security numbers--and provider identification numbers, but not the name of the provider.
The computer was password-protected but otherwise didn't have safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to the information. At this time, the stolen car and laptop have not been recovered and it is not known whether the information on the laptop has been accessed, HSD stated in a release.
In addition to sending notification letters to members, HSD has set up a toll-free line through DentaQuest, 1-877-453-8424, to take questions from individuals who may have been affected by this incident. The call line will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. MDT, Monday through Friday.
The notification letter provides members with instructions for placing a fraud alert on their accounts; or individuals can call the toll- free number or visit the HSD website at www.hsd.state.nm.us.
The department is encouraging all members to protect themselves by placing a free fraud alert on their credit accounts.