[Politech] Jim Harper on HIPAA medical regulations: Where's the beef?

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Apr 21 2004 - 21:31:04 PDT

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    [I am not a HIPAA expert, thank goodness. I do not know if Peter or Jim 
    is correct. But I do know enough about regulation to know that HIPAA 
    comes with a real price tag. It is reasonable to ask its supporters to 
    quantify the (ephemeral?) benefits to see if they outweigh the (real) 
    cost. Otherwise why should it stay on the books? --Declan]
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: RE: [Politech] Peter Swire's "modest" defense of HIPAA 
    medicalregulatory law [priv]
    Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 08:56:59 -0400
    From: Jim Harper - Privacilla.org <jim.harper@private>
    To: 'Declan McCullagh' <declan@private>
    CC: Peter Swire <peter@private>
    Peter certainly makes the case that the regulatory superstructure has
    increased thanks to HIPAA.  That's true, but it should not be mistaken for
    privacy itself being increased.
    He says that a large investment in systems and training makes privacy
    better.  (Perhaps even "empirically" better?  I'd like to see those
    HIPAA lawyers tell me that their clients are doing the same things with a
    lot more regulation and paperwork (or they're chasing after canards, like
    the volume at which a nurse may call the name of a patient).
    Spending is not results, though high-spending government officials would
    like us to think so.
    Tens of billions of dollars were diverted from providing health care to
    patients.  We should have gotten a *major improvement* in privacy protection
    and consumer confidence in health care privacy.  It hasn't happened because
    the regulatory approach is a dead-end.
    If real reform were to allow markets for health care products and services,
    consumers would get back in the driver's seat.  Privacy protection, on the
    terms consumers demanded, would follow.
    Jim Harper
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