WASHINGTON - Senate privacy advocates plan to deluge the Senate Banking Committee with medical privacy amendments to a securities bill scheduled for consideration today.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., is poised to offer at least eight amendments that go beyond existing restrictions on how financial institutions can use customer health information; and Sen. Richard H. Bryan, D-Nev., plans to introduce a sweeping amendment that would require banks to get a customer's consent before sharing any data, even with affiliated companies.
Aides predicted that Sen. Bryan's amendment would not pass but that Sen. Shelby's amendments to require banks to get consent from senior citizens and disabled customers before sharing their medical data with affiliates or other businesses could be approved.
Industry lobbyists, however, said committee Chairman Phil Gramm has secured enough votes to shoot down the privacy hawks and win support for his own medical privacy amendment, which would bar lenders from using consumers' private medical information to make credit decisions.
"The banking committee hasn't even had any hearings on the amendments," said Allen R. Caskie, chief lobbyist for the Financial Services Coordinating Council. "The idea that Sen. Shelby can whip up some amendments that are going to take care of all the problems and do no harm is a little far-fetched."
Sen. Shelby also plans to offer an amendment to let banks pay interest on business checking accounts. With the key exception of pushing back the effective date by 21 months, to Sept. 1, 2002, the Shelby proposal mirrors a bill the committee easily approved last year.