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Consumer Groups Sue Over New Medical Privacy Rules
- December 12th, 2003
A U.S. District Court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by doctors, psychotherapists and 10 consumer and health advocacy groups accusing the Bush administration of failing to safeguard patients' privacy rights in implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Act's rules, which cover the privacy of medical records and other patient information, took effect April 15 and prohibit disclosure, without patient permission, of information for anything other than "routine use." (See ElderLawAnswers news article, "New Privacy Rules Take Effect," April 15, 2003.)
In the lawsuit, which seeks an injunction against the new rules, the plaintiffs argue that the exception for "routine use" opens up all patient records to a wide variety of organizations and uses, including market research. One of the plaintiffs in the suit is a legal secretary who was contacted by a marketing company and quizzed about her recent experience with knee surgery. The company knew details of her surgery that she thought were between her and her doctor.
As it turns out, under the new privacy rules adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services patients actually have lost a surprising degree of control they had over their medical information, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The rules "intend to allow personal information to be used and disclosed freely, without any control by the individual, for these routine purposes," said James C. Pyles, an attorney for the plaintiffs, which include such groups as the Congress of California Seniors, with about 600,000 members. "We as plaintiffs have a right to not have the federal government grant express federal authority to third parties to release our private information to other members of the public," Pyles said.
The government, on the other hand, argues that the rules "strike a balance" between personal privacy concerns and those of the health insurers and medical providers who complained it would be too expensive and cumbersome to obtain patient consent every time an insurance company or medical specialist needed patient data.
Judge Mary A. McLaughlin of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania heard arguments in the case on Wednesday, Dec. 10.
For an article on the lawsuit in the Philadelphia Inquirer, go to: http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/nation/7463158.htm
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC
Susan Pollack served as Chairperson of the Falls Church Senior Citizens Commission from 1997 to 2011 and was on the Executive Board of the Falls Church Education Foundation. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association of the National Capital Area and is a member of the Arlington B...
Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Mindy Felinton concentrates in the areas of Medicaid planning, Veterans' Benefits, asset protection, nursing home planning, elder law, wills, estate planning, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, probate administration and trust administration and began her legal career 30 years ago as an Assistant State Attorney...
The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C.
In practice since 1987, Fairfax Attorney Evan Farr is widely recognized as one of the leading Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Specials Needs attorneys in Virginia and one of foremost experts in the Country in the field of Medicaid Asset Protection and related Trusts. Evan Farr has been quoted or cited as an expert by n...