Passed in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) was designed to protect insurance coverage for patients and provide a standard of privacy regarding the transfer of health information by providers, insurance plans and others. The law has been expanded over the years, and now Congressman Max Weber, Minnesota, has introduced new legislation making direct eye contact with patients by healthcare workers a violation of HIPAA.
“If you look directly at a patient, you may come to know them, know them personally,” said Weber during his 73-minute speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last Tuesday. “Where I come from, direct eye contact is awfully forward. It’s an invasion of privacy.”
The House Committee on Healthcare Reform will take up the matter in next week’s regularly scheduled committee meetings. The issue of how eye contact will be monitored and enforced was not addressed in Representative Weber’s bill.