HEALTH REFORM HEALTH REFORM HEALTH REFORM Rep. Condit Introduces Fair Health Information Practices Act A bill designed to restrict the use of personal health information was introduced today by Rep. Gary Condit (D-CA) to complement the health reform legislation now before the Congress. Rep. Condit's bill is titled the Fair Health Information Practices Act of 1994 (H.R. 4077). Condit is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Information, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture of the House Committee on Government Operations. The provisions of President Clinton's health reform package that address privacy were referred to the Government Operations Committee. In introducing the bill, Rep. Condit said: "The need for uniform health confidentiality legislation is clear. In a recent study, the Office of Technology Assessment found that the present system of protecting health care information is based on a patchwork quilt of laws. The present legal scheme does not provide consistent, comprehensive protection for privacy in health care information, whether that information is on paper or in a computer." Condit continued: "We cannot have health reform providing clear and effective protections for the privacy interests of patients. My bill will solve this problem. It is consistent with the President's legislation and flexible enough to fit in to any health reform bill that passes the Congress. My plan is to add this legislation to the Health Security Act." The purpose of the Act is to establish a code of fair information practices for the use and disclosure of health information that originates in or becomes a part of the health treatment or payment system. The Act establishes uniform federal rules that will apply to covered health information in all states. The Fair Health Information Practices Act would be the first federal law that governs the use of health records throughout the United States. The bill --  establishes uniform, comprehensive federal rules governing the use and disclosure of identifiable health information about individuals  specifies the responsibilities of those who collect, use, and maintain health information about patients  defines the rights of patients, including the right to inspect and to have a copy of records  includes criminal penalties as well as civil remedies that will allow patients to enforce their rights Hearings by the Subcommittee on Information, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture are expected to begin in April. Copies of the bill are available from the House Document Room (202-225-3456).