The Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology
MSPP Home Newsletter Archives Reading Room
Report from the National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers
INCALCULABLE HARM TO ALL:
HIPAA and the Bush Administration's Elimination of Privacy Rights and Protections
On October 15, 2002 the final Department of Health and Human Services rule on privacy completely eliminated everyone’s control over her or his personal health information. This stripping away of key privacy protections was accomplished by modifying the Privacy Rule. HHS eliminated your right to decide whether your medical information can be shared for the purpose of health care treatment, payment and health care operations.
This is the serious danger existing right now. Much of the public does not realize this has happened to them, and their loved ones. Many professional practitioners have been engaged in the worried rushing to be “HIPAA compliant.” Professionals need to face the realities of being able to practice, and to practice in compliance with the laws of our land. BUT the divide and conquer effects on health care professionals keep us looking at the details of “risk management” near at hand, missing the fact that our patients’ and our constitutional rights have been taken away to promote and protect corporate interests.
The danger of the public not knowing about their increased lack of safety is monumental. It is essential for the public to be given full knowledge of all the destruction of our rights so far, and full knowledge of further threats to privacy protections, including threats that the Congress or administration may try to override the sovereign rights of our states to protect us.
What does this mean? Your private records are available to literally millions of companies for their financial gains. Confidentiality—privileged communication, which is the very foundation of trust and safety in mental health care, indeed in all health care—no longer exists. The elimination of real privacy protections serves to destroy all patient-practitioner relationships. This creates incalculable, unforgivable harm.
Assaults on privacy rights erect more barriers to the access to health care, create more threats of stigma and more fears about jobs, about future employability and insurability, about credit card, loan and mortgage eligibility, and on and on. Only the wealthy could afford the private payment for their health care, which might afford them privacy about their own health history and their family health history. Only full privacy allows for the timely access to care and the full disclosure to health care professionals that can lead to optimal care.
What Can We Do About This Elimination of Our Rights?
Since the sovereign states usually protect the privacy of
citizens better than the federal government, we all need to
work closely with our governors, state legislators, and
attorneys general to make sure our state medical privacy laws
and state constitutions are not overridden by federal law.
Two federal level paths are
being simultaneously pursued – legislation and litigation:
The National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers needs your help in funding the extensive research and preparation for this lawsuit against the federal government.
Donations can be made to “NCMHPC” and designated for “The Privacy Legal Defense Fund,” possibly deductible as a business expense—check with your tax advisor.
donations can be made to “The Foundation for the Coalition
of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers,” and will
serve to support our educational and advocacy efforts.
Send donations to: NCMHPC,
P.O. Box 438, Commack, NY 11725.