MEDICAL PRIVACY: House Waits for Senate’s Lead
CongressDaily/A.M. reports that while many House members are "refashioning" their respective medical privacy legislation from last year, most will likely wait to introduce their bills until the Senate passes "something as a starting point." Under the Kassebaum-Kennedy Act of 1996, Congress has until Aug. 21 of this year to pass privacy legislation, or cede the issue to the administration, but that deadline may be extended by "attaching such a provision to another bill." While the Senate mulls three separate bills, a House aide said, "Everyone's still trying to learn the issue because it's so confusing." Republican aides said they expect Ways and Means health subcommittee Chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) "to take the lead again," as he is rewriting last year's plan, which was contained in the GOP managed care reform bill. But due to the issue's complexity, jurisdiction of any House bill will be spread over the Ways and Means, Commerce, Education and the Workforce and Government Reform committees. Also, CongressDaily/A.M. reports, Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), as well as the team of Reps. Gary Condit (D-CA) and Jim McDermott (D-WA), plan to introduce reworked versions of bills they proposed last year. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) plans to introduce in the House the Senate privacy measure written by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (Morrissey, 4/13).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.