Wired for Health technology bill stalled in Senate

A comprehensive health technology bill that was expected to pass the Senate this week has instead gone back to federal lawmakers for more tinkering, according to congressional sources and advocacy groups.
The Wired for Health Care Quality Act, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and backed by a trio of other influential lawmakers, failed in two attempts to get “hotlined” this past week. “Hotlining” a bill is a congressional maneuver that allows for quick passage and usually is an indication that it has the support of the entire Senate.
A Kennedy spokeswoman would only say that negotiations over the bill are continuing. She declined, however, to describe the nature of those negotiations.
But Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, assailed the legislation, saying that it fails to give vital protections to the one group that needs it the most—everyday Americans. Peel denounced the push for quick passage as “bully tactics” and admonished Kennedy and other senators for trying to do so.
“The only possible thing we’d support is that the bill (ensures) that every American has the right to health information privacy,” Peel said. “And the definition of that is that Americans control access to their personal health information. That’s the minimal acceptable language for patient privacy rights.”
{Thanks to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont backed up by powerful grassroots efforts to save privacy, Senators Kennedy, Clinton, Enzi, Hatch, and Obama could not push their bill through the Senate this week on unanimous consent. Their bill, known as “Wired,” wipes out Americans’ rights to control access to the most sensitive information on Earth: personal health records. America needs a national electronic health system, but it should be built the right way using ‘smart’ technology and ‘smart’ laws to strengthen and enhance our traditional rights to privacy and the control of access to our health data. With today’s technology, there is no rationale to build an electronic health system without patient privacy protections, unless the objective is to sell the identifiable health records of the patients to the billion-dollar data mining industries. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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