The Center for Democracy and Technology ("CDT") released a major policy paper today that is intended to move the health privacy debate to consider more effective privacy protection of patient information. The CDT is advocating for the inclusion of privacy protections in the President’s economic stimulus bill, which contains at least $20 billion for a national health information technology network. CDT’s paper indicates in its Press Release that "personal health information should easily flow for treatment, payment, and certain core administrative tasks without requiring patient consent, but that stricter limits need to be placed on marketing and other secondary uses."
The CDT paper is just one among a growing number of signs that a tightening of HIPAA’s original Privacy Rule requirements may be coming. If it happens, covered entities may need to modify their procedures for obtaining written authorizations for disclosures, and new entities, such as business associates and other third parties previously not directly subject to HIPAA, could potentially get swept-in under the direct-compliance umbrella.