[Politech] Have Feds' HIPAA health privacy rules helped? [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Tue Apr 13 2004 - 22:55:03 PDT

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    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: HIPAA Privacy One Year Later: Prognosis . . . Negative!
    Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 00:53:48 -0400
    From: Jim Harper - Privacilla.org <jim.harper@private>
    For Immediate Release
    April 14, 2004
    Contact: Jim Harper
    (202) 546-3701
    HIPAA Privacy One Year Later: Prognosis . . . Negative!
    On Anniversary of Implementation, Federal Health Privacy Regulations are
    Ineffective, if not Harmful, for Patient Privacy
    Washington, D.C. - Americans' health privacy is no better assured a year
    after federal privacy regulations went into effect, according to privacy
    policy think-tank Privacilla.org. April 14th is the one-year anniversary of
    privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and
    Accountability Act going into effect.
    "If anything, health privacy has receded in the past year," said Jim Harper,
    Editor of Privacilla.org. "Federal regulators stepped into a bad situation
    and made it worse. Consumers today have even fewer privacy-protecting
    options and far less confidence in the privacy of their health information
    and health decisions."
    According to a report <http://www.privacilla.org/releases/HIPAA_Report.pdf>
    issued by Privacilla.org a year ago, threats to health privacy are a symptom
    of deep problems in the health care system, such as the growth of
    third-party payers who stand between patients and doctors in health care
    "Rather than moving power back to patients," said Harper, "the bureaucrats
    who wrote the regulation created a system approving use after multiple use
    of personal health information."
    "Trying to negotiate for better privacy protection is even harder now that a
    government stamp-of-approval is on massive information sharing," said
    Harper. "The notices and forms people receive from doctors and hospitals
    make clear what people have sensed: 'You have no control in this system.'"
    Last year's report on HIPAA catalogued the web of privacy protections that
    protected health privacy before the massive growth of third-party payment
    and before the massive federal privacy regulation. These included the ethics
    and professionalism of doctors and nurses, oversight from state licensing
    boards, the discipline of the health care market, contract law, malpractice
    law, and other legal doctrines, including the state privacy torts.
    Looking back on the past year, Harper queried: "Has the weight of patients'
    privacy concern been lifted? Are people giving their doctors better
    information and getting better care? Are misdiagnoses being avoided? At
    least $17 billion dollars was diverted from patient care to implement these
    rules. We should demand some results or demand their repeal."
    The Privacilla report is available at
    http://www.privacilla.org/releases/HIPAA_Report.html [html] and
    http://www.privacilla.org/releases/HIPAA_Report.pdf [PDF].
    Privacilla.org (http://www.privacilla.org
    <http://www.privacilla.org/index.html> ) is an innovative Web site that
    captures "privacy" as a public policy issue. Privacilla has been described
    as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."
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