Tuesday, February 08, 2005

HIPAA restricts public access to records

Designed to give people privacy in an electronic age, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, has lessened the public's access to public records across the nation, according to this Associated Press report.
"Police departments have cited it as a reason to withhold information. Nursing homes have cited it as a reason not to inform residents about registered sex offenders living in their midst. And health departments have cited it for not reporting diseases.

"As interpreted in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which that year developed privacy rules, it has prevented the release of public records across the nation, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press."

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