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20 Years Ago in Health Information Privacy/Security Alert: January 1999

Maine Freaks Out

Fear of litigation stymied implementation of Maine’s comprehensive medical records confidentiality law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1999. The new law generated complaints from families who were prevented from checking on the condition of their relatives. That prompted Gov. Angus King (R) to sign emergency legislation to delay implementation of the law. The Maine Hospital Association said that despite educational efforts, hospitals relied on conservative interpretations presented by their attorneys. The law-imposed fines of up to $50,000.

The experience affected Washington where the Senate was trying to craft a comprehensive medical privacy law and HHS was pondering HIPAA privacy rules if Congress failed to enact legislation.

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