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Home > Past Releases and Reports > HIPAA Privacy One Year Later: Prognosis . . . Negative!

For Immediate Release
April 14, 2004

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 546-3701

HIPAA Privacy One Year Later: Prognosis . . . Negative!

On Anniversary of Implementation, Federal Health Privacy Regulations are Ineffective, if not Harmful, for Patient Privacy

Washington, D.C. — Americans’ health privacy is no better assured a year after federal privacy regulations went into effect, according to privacy policy think-tank April 14th is the one-year anniversary of privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act going into effect.

“If anything, health privacy has receded in the past year,” said Jim Harper, Editor of “Federal regulators stepped into a bad situation and made it worse. Consumers today have even fewer privacy-protecting options and far less confidence in the privacy of their health information and health decisions.”

According to a report issued by a year ago, threats to health privacy are a symptom of deep problems in the health care system, such as the growth of third-party payers who stand between patients and doctors in health care transactions.

"Rather than moving power back to patients," said Harper, "the bureaucrats who wrote the regulation created a system approving use after multiple use of personal health information."

“Trying to negotiate for better privacy protection is even harder now that a government stamp-of-approval is on massive information sharing,” said Harper. “The notices and forms people receive from doctors and hospitals make clear what people have sensed: ‘You have no control in this system.’”

Last year’s report on HIPAA catalogued the web of privacy protections that protected health privacy before the massive growth of third-party payment and before the massive federal privacy regulation. These included the ethics and professionalism of doctors and nurses, oversight from state licensing boards, the discipline of the health care market, contract law, malpractice law, and other legal doctrines, including the state privacy torts.

Looking back on the past year, Harper queried: “Has the weight of patients’ privacy concern been lifted? Are people giving their doctors better information and getting better care? Are misdiagnoses being avoided? At least $17 billion dollars was diverted from patient care to implement these rules. We should demand some results or demand their repeal.”

The Privacilla report is available at [html] and [PDF]. ( is an innovative Web site that captures "privacy" as a public policy issue. Privacilla has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."


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