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
"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
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
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.
New York Times