Friday, September 5, 2008

Hungry Hungry HIPAAs

I love a good play on words, especially when it takes a federal law regarding personal health care privacy and relates it to a silly game involving marbles. Fun!

Why am I doing such a thing? Because of the good people on tonight's Chicago Tribune Live broadcast on Comcast SportsNet. Our participants: host David Kaplan and his three "panelists:" writers Fred Mitchell and Phil Rogers of the Tribune, and John Crist, publisher of Bear Report Magazine (the football team, not the large woodland animal).

Anyway, the panel was discussing the recent injuries to Cubs' pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden and the apparent secrecy and lack of disclosure to the media. Kaplan made the point that the sports media don't trust the Cubs because of their handling of Mark Prior's injury a few years ago. Then, this exchange:

Kaplan: "Baseball is less forthcoming with injury info. Some of it is the federal government and HIPAA, but generally, they've come to think that's their business and why should they talk about it?"

Crist: "This is not exclusive to baseball...this is an epidemic across sports. These teams act like they are protecting government trade secrets, and that's just not the case." (emphasis mine)

I like how Kaplan mentions HIPAA, and the panel just dismisses it like it's a minor inconvenience. An "epidemic across sports"??? HIPAA is a federal law protecting patients from having their health care information shared without their consent. Is MLB--or in this case, the Cubs--doing something wrong by not disclosing injury information about two players? Or, are they merely upholding a federal law??

Crist's statement is especially dumb. Johnny, they're not "protecting government trade secrets;" they are following a federal government law. Just because you think you're Richard Thornburg and that the public has a right to know everything, it doesn't mean a team is above federal law.

Look, I get that fans want to know the status of important players on their favorite teams. But you can't fault the teams for doing the right thing, even if you think the teams are merely doing it to be secretive. It doesn't matter--it's the law.


On the same show, the panel decided to preview Sunday's Bears/Colts game. The discussion turned to the new stadium, and how Lucas Oil Stadium will be different than the RCA Dome during the game:

Rogers: "What do you think about Lucas Oil Stadium? Are they (the Colts) giving up an advantage that they had playing in that dome, where they would pipe in the noise and do some goofy stuff?" (again, emphasis mine)

Pipe in the noise.

Pipe in the noise.

Pipe in the noise.

People still think this.

Pipe in the noise.


Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

You gotta love a classic Hungy Hungry Hippos reference!

I was curious what the league actually says about HIPAA and the release of information. A quick internet search turned up a current Uniform Players Contract/Basic Agreement for MLB players. Paragraph 3 of article XIII(G) details that a club is allowed to disclose any employment-related injuries:

(3) For public relations purposes, a Club may disclose general
information about (a) the nature of a Player’s employment-related
injury, (b) the prognosis and the anticipated length of recovery from
the injury, and (c) the treatment and surgical procedures undertaken
or anticipated in regard to the injury.

While HIPAA does govern the release of health-related information, the contract does grant teams the "ability" to disclose information about a player's injury. However, that does not mean a team has to or must disclose that information. Just like most NFL teams currently try to disguise injuries on a weekly basis, the Cubs do not want the rest of the league to necessarily know there plans. For all we know, those players could appear tomorrow ready to go or they could be out 2-3 weeks.

As fans, we prefer to know what is going on with our team's players. But that same information can be used against our team by its opponents. If the Cubs want us to know about the injuries, they will tell us.

September 6, 2008 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

Good point. I forgot to include that possibility in my original post. I'm surprised that MLB has that provision--I didn't think the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement had been rengotiated since HIPAA had gone into effect. And we know that MLB's Players Union wouldn't let it go if they hadn't agreed to it.

September 6, 2008 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger Henn Mother said...

Now Zinglebert, please remember to spell check your posts before hitting the submit button. It's HUNGRY Hungry Hippos. Hungy is what you used to say when you were just a wee lad. "Momma, I'm hungy!" you would say.

Oh how they grow up!

On a tangental note, is it ironic that this posting's title coincides with the Manning e Manning Hungry Hungry Hippos commercial? I'm just saying!

September 6, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

It was 1 o'clock in the morning. My spellchecker clocks out at midnight. Also, the comments area does not have a spellchecker, so I don't have any backup.

September 8, 2008 at 9:06 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home