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Home > Past Releases and Reports > The HIPAA Regulations: A Gamble with Privacy and Patient Care


For Immediate Release

March 30, 2001

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 486-0824

http://www.privacilla.org

The HIPAA Regulations: A Gamble with Privacy and Patient Care

Privacilla Assails Process, Substance of New Federal Regulations

Washington, D.C. Web-based privacy policy think-tank Privacilla.org submitted comments today on federal regulations purporting to protect the privacy of Americans' health information.

"The regulations amount to a gamble about consumer confidence in the health care system," the comments state. "The gamble is that . . . patients will more openly and confidently seek treatment if murky and arcane federal regulations make patients' personal health care information more available to the government, to researchers, and to a variety of other interests."

"This bet should be taken off the table," said Jim Harper, editor of Privacilla. "The regulations take privacy policy in the wrong direction and put lives at risk."

The comments also review the "constitutionally suspect and crassly political" process that brought about the regulations, noting, "There are many reasons to lack confidence in the regulations because of the way they were formulated."

The Privacilla comments attempt to clear up some of the incoherence in the privacy debate, offering up the idea that privacy is an individual condition, like happiness. "A law or regulation that purported to provide happiness would properly be viewed as absurd. So it is with privacy."

"Privacy can not be delivered like an entitlement," the comments continue. "It is a product of individual power and control, coupled with the personal responsibility to exercise that power and control."

The comments call for the regulations to be withdrawn and for Congress and the President to be directly responsible for any federal privacy policy. The first steps national leaders should take would "prevent governments form actively eroding the ability of patients to control health information."

Privacilla.org (http://www.privacilla.org) is a Web site that captures privacy as a public policy issue from a free-market, pro-technology perspective. It has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."

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