2002 No Action
2001 No Action
2000 No Action
1998 No Action
1995 No Action
July 3, 1995
TO THE HONORABLE, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws §43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 95-H-6644, Substitute A, as amended, "An Act Relating to Health Care."
This legislation would establish new, and clarify existing, criteria for the disclosure of health care information in the context of judicial proceedings. It would also completely exempt confidential health care information and communications from compulsory legal process in the context of any legislative or administrative proceeding. Moreover, this legislation gives the patient the right to refuse to disclose, and prevents any other witness from disclosing, confidential health care information and communications in any such proceeding.
While this legislation provides laudable criteria for the disclosure of confidential health care information in the context of judicial proceedings, it prohibits its disclosure altogether in administrative and legislative proceedings. Such a blanket prohibition inappropriately interferes with the fact-finding imperatives of the State's administrative and legislative bodies. For example, the State Employees Retirement System (the "System") is empowered to make investigations of the health and medical condition of applicants for disability pensions under R.I. Gen. Laws §§36-10-12 and 36-10-14 at administrative hearings before its disability subcommittee. This legislation may interfere with the System's ability to compel the production of the applicant's complete medical records, which form the basis for its award of a disability pension. Similarly, various municipalities are empowered to conduct investigations and to compel the production of medical records in connection with municipal pensions. This legislative function would be made impossible if the blanket prohibition against disclosure to legislative bodies was enacted.
Patient confidentiality can be adequately maintained without disruption to the State's administrative and legislative bodies if disclosure is made pursuant to the same exemptions as those currently governing the disclosure and use of confidential medical information in administrative and legislative proceedings. This bill in its present form, however, does not permit that result.
For this reason, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.