Sunday, May 21, 2006

Blowing in the Wind

One of the best things about HIPAA is that more stringent state laws trump its provisions. But now comes the proposed HR 4157, which would give HHS the authority to establish a national privacy standard that would preempt state laws. This article in Psychiatric Times by Stephen Barlas explains why that might not be such a good idea:

Pyles said his group and other psychiatric and mental health organizations that are members of the Mental Health Liaison Group oppose legislation that would allow the HHS Secretary to set a privacy standard that would override all state laws—especially a secretary in the Bush administration, which, according to Pyles, "has not been a privacy friendly administration." He added, "It is almost a sure thing that the secretary would recommend preemption of state law."

HIPAA's privacy provisions have already been weakened considerably. State laws often provide the only real protection available. And by making the rules flexible to the whims of whoever is in office and the political climate of the moment cannot make compliance any easier.

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