Soon after an overhaul of federal health care privacy laws took effect in April 2004, journalists sometimes found they could not gather information usually taken for granted.
Police, fire and hospitals in some cases were using the law to withhold information on crime and accident victims, even refusing to disclose whether someone was injured and how.
Then in December 2004, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott ruled that state public information laws trumped the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA.
Information already deemed public under state laws would remain that way, Abbott said, calling it the strongest legal opinion on the matter in the country.
But that ruling was soon challenged in court. And nearly a year after oral arguments before the Third Court of Appeals in Austin, freedom of information advocates are still waiting for a decision.
As so often happens, there have been cases where administrators have hidden behind HIPAA to avoid accountiblity. There has also been the usual mis-information that has been such a big part of the push-back against the Privacy Rule, including my favorite, the "We can't ask for prayer for our sick church member in the bulletin" canard.