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84 Indiana Law Journal Supplement 23 (2009)


Issues of healthcare availability and quality are among the most profound facing our nation. If a high-quality, accessible healthcare system of a truly national nature is to be devised, electronic connectivity—including increased use of electronic medical records and similar technological advances—must be a key feature. Yet such connectivity may give rise to patients’ concerns regarding the privacy of their medical information. Because such concerns demand respect, a challenge lies in balancing patients’ privacy interests against the important information-sharing interests underlying a national healthcare network. The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPPAA) is a key federal law that addresses many privacy issues regarding patients’ medical information, but HIPAA does not preempt state laws that furnish greater privacy protection than HIPAA provides. Accordingly, there exists a patchwork quilt of differing privacy protection provisions. This Article explores the issues just outlined and stresses the importance of a stronger federal role in standardizing medical information privacy rules, so that the current patchwork quilt of privacy regulations does not impede the development of a national healthcare network.