Bush administration holds back medical regulations

Bush administration holds back medical regulations

No city in the U.S. has yet regulated The use of omnipresent television surveillance cameras.

In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, hey found a way. See page three.

The new Secretary of Health and Human Services has delayed the effective date of the medical-confidentiality regulation issued in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, until Apr. 14, to allow more time for public comments.

Lobbyists for some health providers had said that the final regulation went far beyond the proposed regulation that was published for public comment in late 1999. Privacy activists found some surprises in the final regulation as well [see PJ Jan 01], notably that it permits addresses of patients to be used for marketing by doctors, laboratories, hospitals and others and that it permits hospitals or health maintenance organizations to deny treatment to anyone who does not provide written consent to disclose patient information.

The confidentiality rule was to take effect Feb. 27, the day on which Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, former Governor of Wisconsin, said in a speech to the American Association of Health Plans that his department had suspended the rule and asked for more public comment.

It will not be easy for the Bush Administration to scuttle the reg, which was specifically mandated by a law enacted by Congress in 1996. But staff of HHS in the last hours of the Clinton Administration failed to send the final regulation to Congress for a 60-day review period, as required of all regulations. Thompson is taking advantage of that oversight to modify the rule. http://aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/index.htm.

Copyright Privacy Journal Mar 2001

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