PRIVACY II: State Comparison: Inconsistency, Confusion
The non-partisan Health Privacy Project released a detailed report Tuesday on the medical records confidentiality laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report, "The State of Health Privacy: An Uneven Terrain," is a first-of-its-kind comparison of health privacy laws at the state level -- including condition-specific confidentiality clauses for HIV/AIDS, genetic testing, alcohol, drug use and other mental health conditions. Its release comes just as Congress wrestles with national medical privacy legislation in anticipation of an August 21 deadline, after which HHS will assume authority to issue its own rules. The study, based on an 18-month review, concludes that on the whole, "state laws are weak and incomplete" in the very areas federal legislation seeks to regulate, such as patient access to medical records, law enforcement access, limits on disclosure and "remedies for violations of privacy rules." More "detailed" legislation is in place in some states for HIV/AIDS and genetic disorders. The report was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as is the Georgetown University-based Health Privacy Project itself (Health Privacy Project release, 7/20). Click here for coverage of a recent report, issued by a Working Group of the Health Privacy Project, detailing recommended steps to ensure the privacy of medical records.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.