MEDICAL PRIVACY: President Wants Bill to Precede HHS Regs
Despite confirming the forthcoming release of draft medical privacy regulations from HHS, being prepared now that Congress has missed its self-imposed August deadline for passing privacy legislation, President Clinton prodded Congress yesterday to pass a bill promptly. In delivering a "health care checklist" headlined by HMO reform (see story 1), he called for the legislature to add privacy legislation to its already full fall agenda, in order to "provide broader authority in this area" (Koffler, CongressDaily, 9/8). Medical privacy is a complex issue that Congress has been working on for some time, though to little resolution. The Wall Street Journal reports that "Congress is littered with drafts of medical privacy laws, but they are stuck on tangential issues, such as the right of access to juvenile abortion records." John Stone, spokesman for Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who in collaboration with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) included a privacy provision in their managed care reform package, confirmed the challenge of negotiating privacy legislation. He said, "Every time we sit down, something else comes up. It goes way outside the realm of health care -- into banking, grocery stores," he said. Officials expect a final draft from HHS by early October, but regulations may be pre-empted any time thereafter by congressional action (Murray, 9/9).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.