HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson today issued final privacy regulations mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Under the privacy rule, which has been the subject of debate and revision since it was first proposed by the Clinton administration, hospitals and other healthcare providers are required to obtain patient authorization before releasing personal medical information for "non-routine" purposes. The rule also requires providers to furnish patients with a written notice of their privacy and confidentiality policies, as well as receive patient consent before using medical information for marketing purposes. Most healthcare organizations have until April 14, 2003, to comply; some small health plans have until April 14, 2004. HHS said the rule would be available online today at its Office for Civil Rights' Web page, although at deadline it had yet to be posted. Click here to connect to the site. -- by Jeff Tieman
HHS issues final HIPAA privacy rule
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