HR Strange But True!
June 17, 2002

You think you've got headaches trying to comply with HIPAA? Consider the predicament facing Major League Baseball and other pro sports.

It's long been standard for baseball managers to discuss with reporters a pitcher's shoulder tendinitis or an outfielder's chronic knee trouble. But under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which all employers will have to comply with in one form or another by next April, players' medical condition won't be a subject for public discussion without consent.

The New York Times reports that lawyers from the major sports leagues are sorting through what could be a very troublesome issue. If professional and amateur players assert privacy rights as provided by the law, the resulting information embargo could affect betting lines, trades, and bidding for free agents, the newspaper reports.

"We are aware of the legislation and its potential implication for sports leagues," said Greg Aiello, the National Football League's vice president for public relations. "We are following the regulatory process closely and will be prepared to advise our clubs after the final compliance rules are determined."

Janlori Goldman, director of the Health Privacy Project at Georgetown University and one of the people responsible for getting the law passed in 1996, said there had been a lot of talk about how the regulations might affect different business sectors, but she could not recall any discussions relating to sports teams or leagues.

Goldman said the new law would "give players control over whether they want medical information shared with the press."

"They'll have the freedom to decide whether they want the team doctor or anyone else to give out medical information," she said.

Source: The New York Times

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