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Re: AHIMA friday meetings on S. 1360

  On Thu, 18 Jan 1996, James Love wrote:
  > Bob Gellman chaired the first meeting, at Kathleen's request I assume, 
  > and he annouced that no one had privacy of their medical records, and 
  > that on one was going to get any privacy, and all the bill could was to 
  > prevent new interest groups from getting access.  This wasn't too well 
  > received by the privacy community.  
  I want to clarify Jamie's characterization of my comment at the first
  meeting.  I said there what I have been saying for several years.  Medical
  records are not really private, and it is unfair and misleading to suggest
  to people that they are private.  There are can be hundreds of individuals
  who see the treatment and payment records from a single hospitalization. 
  There may be dozens of public and private institutions that routinely
  obtain medical records to carry out legally authorized or legally required
  functions today. 
  I regret the widespead dissemination of or access to medical records just
  as much as anyone.  But I am a realist.  Anyone who want to cut off access
  to existing, recognized, socially useful institutions is welcome to try. 
  I don't believe that any bill will pass if it chops off the ability of
  major institutions to carry out their legitimate functions.  Cutting off
  extraneous uses by these institutions should be possible, and stopping
  improper or unjustified uses (present or future) is a desirable and
  achievable goal.  There are other valuable things that can be
  accomplished, like providing patient access and correction rights, notice
  of information practices, etc.  These are all components of a privacy
  Still, I believe that we cannot honestly promise people any absolute
  privacy.  We can only promise fair information practices.  There is such
  an overwheling medical data machine ALREADY in existence that is difficult
  to describe.  I don't believe that it is politically possible to fight it
  totally.  We can only nibble at the edges.  Anyone is welcome to disagree
  with my political judgment, but I will hold to my view that a baseline
  bill is better than nothing.  If there is no legislation, uses will
  continue to expand and the political difficulties will be even harder to
  overcome.  Medical records are now very hot and valuable commodities, and 
  there are plenty of players who lust after them.  If we can't erect 
  new barriers soon, things will get worse and worse. 
  > I'm not sure who Bob Gellman represents in all this.  Bob, picked up any 
  > medical records industry clients yet?
  I really hate to disappoint you, Jamie, but I don't represent anyone on
  this bill.  You asked this before and I told you this before.  I also told
  you that if I undertook to lobby on the legislation, I would disclose it. 
  I am sorry if this make it difficult for you to play your usual game of
  impuning motives of those that express views that you disagree with.  My
  views are my own, formed during more than 15 years of work on medical
  privacy legislation. 
  + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
  +   Robert Gellman          rgellman@cais.com   +
  +   Privacy and Information Policy Consultant   +
  +   431 Fifth Street S.E.                       +    
  +   Washington, DC 20003                        + 
  +   202-543-7923 (phone)   202-547-8287 (fax)   +
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