Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in May was expected to issue his first guideline to the medical privacy rule. Thompson made the announcement on April 26 during testimony on a range of issues before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's health subcommittee.The Bush Administration in April allowed the privacy rule to go into effect, but assured the industry that it would make clarifications or modifications to address contentious parts of the rule.

"President Bush and I strongly believe we must protect both vital health care services and the right of every American to have confidence that his or her personal medical records will remain private," Thompson said in his testimony.

"In response," he said, "we allowed the patient privacy rule to take effect on April 14, 2001. As you know, under the (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) law, affected parties have two years to comply with the new regulation, until April 14, 2003.

Adapted from an article written by Joseph Goedert, Health Data Management, an EC Media Group publication.

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