Clinton Elbows Lawmakers On Medical Privacy

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President Clinton upbraided Congress last week vowing to issue regulations on medical privacy for American consumers if lawmakers don't take action before the fall. Congress was tasked with passing a privacy bill by the end of August but has yet to act.

"I don't want this to become a fight. I would far rather have legislation," he said.

Washington political commentators said the president is strategically well-positioned to force the issue because Congress has a full plate of items to address before the session's end. Consumers also are already up in arms over privacy matters in general, and medical privacy has long been the greatest area of concern

According to John Stone, spokesman for Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who has helped draft privacy legislation, "Every time we sit down, something else comes up." Privacy "goes way outside the realm of healthcare - into banking, grocery stores and more."

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