Boxer Criticizes Proposed Changes to Medical Privacy Rules in San Diego Union-Tribune Opinion Piece
The Bush administration's proposal to alter some elements of the federal medical privacy rules enacted by the Clinton administration in December 2000 "threaten[s] to disrupt the current balanced approach" of protecting individual privacy while allowing for efficient delivery of health care services, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) writes in a San Diego Union-Tribune opinion piece (Boxer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/3). Under the changes proposed in March to the privacy rules, which are scheduled to take full effect in April 2003, providers, insurers and pharmacies would not have to obtain written consent from patients before disclosing their medical records. Instead, providers would have to make a "good-faith effort" to obtain written acknowledgement from patients that they had been informed of their privacy rights (California Healthline, 3/25). By requiring that patients be told only that "their information can and will be shared," the Bush administration "asserts that informing patients of the privacy regulations is an acceptable substitute for an individual's informed, written consent," Boxer states, adding, "Quite simply, it is not." Boxer concludes, "Amazingly, the Bush administration has claimed that its proposed modification to the bill strengthens privacy rights. It is a chronic case of saying one thing and doing the opposite" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.