Proposed Rule Would Ban Use of Medical Records in Loan Decisions
Five federal agencies have jointly drafted a proposed rule under which banks and other financial institutions could not take into account the medical records of applicants when they decide whether to approve loans, the New York Times reports. The proposed rule, which the agencies will publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, are the result of a law signed by President Bush in December that states that banks "shall not obtain or use medical information pertaining to a consumer in connection with any determination of the consumer's eligibility" for a loan. Under the proposed rule, banks could take into account debts to health care providers when they decide whether to issue loans but would have to "treat the information in the same way they used similar information about debts unrelated to medical care," the Times reports. Banks also could not take into account "the consumer's physical, mental or behavioral health, condition or history, type of treatment or prognosis" and could not deny loans to applicants because they have "a potentially terminal disease." The Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Credit Union Administration and the Office of Thrift Supervision drafted the proposed rule.
Joy Pitts, a privacy analyst at Georgetown University, said, "The proposed rules are generally favorable to consumers." Charlotte Bahin, senior vice president of America's Community Bankers, said that "it would be very hard for us" to argue against the proposed rule, adding, "That would make us look like money-grubbing bankers" (Pear, New York Times, 4/28).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.