Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is postponing "medical privacy regulations" that, on closer examination by NewsMax.com, really leave the door wide open for compromising privacy. And a physicians organization is talking about going to court to stop the regulation from ever taking effect.
The 1,500 pages of regulations,
HHS cannot meet the April 14 deadline for reviewing the regulations, Thompson said in answer to a reporter's question during a briefing Monday on President Bush's budget for HHS.
This is a significant victory for the thousands of NewsMax.com readers who signed a petition to Thompson urging that the rules be rejected or significantly altered.
The secretary referred to 24,000 written comments he has received on this proposal just within the last 30 days.
Interesting, because the NewsMax.com petition, in and of itself, contained more than 27,000 signatures. We do not know how many signatures are contained in the other written comments. It could conceivably go into the high hundreds of thousands or well over a million.
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, told NewsMax.com on Tuesday night that the very fact that Secretary Thompson has postponed the implementation of the rule "should tell him that this is not just a problem for the industry, but is a problem for patients and physicians."
She also held out the possibility of taking the whole matter to court on the basis that the proposal is unconstitutional and violates the "Good Government Act."
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has introduced legislation that would wipe the slate clean and start all over again.
All well and good, according to Dr. Orient, saying activists who understand the "internally inconsistent" language in the rules should pressure their congressmen and senators to act on the Paul bill. But she adds that litigation could be an effective backup.
Orient said "Hats off!" to Perry for having the patience to wade through all 1,500 pages. Very few people have done that, she said, and that's why many Americans don not know what is in the plan and would be horrified if they did.
The offices of the HHS here in Washington were flooded with e-mails, phone calls and letters after NewsMax.com ran a series of articles showing that the term "privacy," as applied to this last-minute Clinton administration directive, was actually quite Orwellian.
Much of the media are playing up the cost factor mentioned by health-care groups, some of which have been pressuring the government to make the regulation even more intrusive on the privacy of your medical history and records.
Secretary Thompson is not saying exactly how much of an additional delay he's expecting before issuing a final rule.
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