Johnson, Thomas Seek Patient Privacy Rule Changes
Rep. William Thomas (R-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), chair of the Ways and Means health subcommittee, this week sent a "testy" letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell Daniels calling for changes to a patient privacy regulation implemented last year, CongressDaily/AM reports. The Bush administration allowed the rule, issued by former President Clinton during his final days in office, to take effect in April 2001. The regulation created a federal right to privacy of medical records, including provisions that require written permission from patients before providers can disclose their medical information. In the letter, Thomas and Johnson called several "aspects" of the rule "problematic," including requirements for patient consent, mandates that businesses contracting with health plans and providers also comply with confidentiality rules and the regulation's application to oral communications. Thomas and Johnson called for an administration response within 30 days and said that "legislation may be required to restore the balance and trust the regulation seeks to achieve" (CongressDaily/AM, 3/1).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.