Group raises concern over confidentiality bills

Health information confidentiality legislation is gaining speed on Capitol Hill these days, with three bills introduced in mid-March, but not everyone is gung-ho over the measures.

The Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has stated its concern over provisions in the legislation that could endanger health information, not protect it. At issue are parts of the Medical Infor mation Privacy and Security Act, known in the Senate as S 573 and in the House as HR 1057.

"S 573 and HR 1057 contain provisions that would fail to comprehensively pre-empt state health information confidentiality laws, leaving in place the current patchwork of state laws and rules federal intervention is supposed to remedy," explains AHIMA executive vice president and CEO Linda L. Kloss, RRA.

Additionally, the bills would treat various types of health information differently and make it impossible to maintain uniformly high standards for management of records, Kloss states.

"All health information is important and deserves equal protection. Treating mental health information, genetic information, and other health information differently would add to the confusion and increase the potential for errors," she says.