Provider Groups Praise Proposed Medical Privacy Change
At a news conference, health care provider groups yesterday praised the Bush administration's revision of Clinton administration medical privacy rules, saying the new regulations will "be better for patients and providers," CongressDaily reports. The Clinton administration first issued medical privacy rules in December 2000, but in March, HHS proposed a series of changes that eliminated a requirement that providers, insurers and pharmacies obtain written consent from patients before disclosing medical records. Instead, patients would at some point simply need to be notified about their privacy rights. The changes would also give parents greater access to their teenagers' medical records and make it easier for researchers to access patient records. However, the Bush rules would tighten the regulations by requiring providers to get explicit permission from patients before using their records for marketing purposes. Healthcare Leadership Council President Mary Grealy said the changes would "balance" medical privacy with the demands of timely medical care and research. "These regulations, as modified, will provide patient guarantees that their medical information will be protected," she said. Pharmacy and provider representatives also said they were pleased the proposal would eliminate the need for patients to pick up their own prescriptions, though they said the administration could "go further" in making data available to researchers. Patient and privacy advocates, however, have criticized the proposed elimination of written patient consent. Janlori Goldman of Georgetown University's Health Privacy Project expressed concern that allowing parents greater access to children's medical information could "undermine minors' ability to get mental health and sexually transmitted disease care" (Fulton, CongressDaily, 4/4).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.