Pro-Privacy Will Continue to Grow

More and more genuine consumer pro-privacy groups —as opposed to privacy-lite, industry-supported, faux consumer organizations—are speaking out to restore privacy in electronic health systems. Support for privacy rights will build and build. There may be set-backs, but we cannot be stopped. See this recent article on Consumer Watchdog supporting patient privacy.

The real reason privacy will win is simple and practical: electronic systems will never be trusted or work unless consumers control personal health information.

In the words of Justice Brandeis: “The right to be let alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the [Constitution].” Justice Brandeis 1928.
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478, 48 S.Ct. 564, 572 (1928) (Brandeis J., dissenting).

Brandeis dissented from the conventional wisdom of his time. Today we are the dissenters from the CW of our time, but like Brandeis’ dissent, ours will prevail.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Google to Cease Lobbying Effort to Allow Sale of Patient Medical Records

Urges Congress to Adopt Privacy Protections in Economic Stimulus Bill. The non-partisan Consumer Watchdog called on Google today to cease a rumored lobbying effort aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records in the current version of the Economic Stimulus legislation.

Consumer Watchdog called on Congress to remove loopholes in the ban on the sale of medical records and include other privacy protections absent from the current bill such as giving patients the right to an audit detailing who had accessed their medical records and how the records were used.

Reportedly Google is pushing for the provisions so it may sell patient medical information to its advertising clients on the new “Google Health” database:https://www.google.com/health/

Economic Stimulus Package Could Impinge on Americans’ Health Privacy

“Before increasing federal spending on health IT, Congress should first fix the already-outdated 1996 HIPAA privacy rule to ensure individuals have control over their personal health information,” says Sue A. Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom (IHF). “Right now, the HIPAA privacy rule has too many loopholes to ensure true patient privacy,” Blevins stresses.

IHF released the following analyses regarding proposed federal spending on health IT and its impact on health privacy:

What does Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package have to do with your health privacy? A lot! If Obama creates electronic medical records for most Americans (as he’s proposing) without first fixing the federal health privacy rule (to ensure patient consent), everyone would end up losing control over his or her personal health information. That’s because the rule gives many entities the legal authority to share information without patients’ consent for purposes related to healthcare treatment, payment, and overseeing the healthcare system. (See “What Every American Needs to Know about the HIPAA Medical Privacy Rule”:www.forhealthfreedom.org/Publications/Privacy/PrivacyUpdatedNov2008.html.)

Economic Stimulus Package Likely To Cost $850 Billion, With Up to $90B for State Medicaid Programs

The economic stimulus package under development by President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats likely will cost almost $850 billion, including up to $90 billion in additional federal funds for state Medicaid programs…

…In related news, privacy and civil liberties groups on Wednesday sent letters to Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Obama to encourage them to include privacy protections in any provisions in the economic stimulus package that seek to increase adoption of EHRs, CongressDaily reports. The groups — which included the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Action, the National Association of Social Workers and Patient Privacy Rights — said that such protections are needed to prevent unauthorized access to and sale of the medical information of patients. At a briefing on Wednesday, Ashley Katz, executive director of Patient Privacy Rights, said, “We all want to innovate and improve health care, but without privacy our system will crash as any system with a persistent and chronic virus will.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) have expressed support for such protections. Markey in a statement said, “Without robust safeguards, the health IT systems we are planning for today could turn the dream of integrated, seamless electronic health networks into a nightmare for consumers.”



Bipartisan Coalition Sends Letter To Congress Urging Privacy Protections With Health IT

At today’s news conference, the Coalition for Patient Privacy is releasing a letter sent to Congress advocating for the inclusion of privacy safeguards with any funding given to implement health IT systems in the proposed economic stimulus package.

In the letter, the bipartisan coalition, representing over 30 organizations, individual experts and the Microsoft Corporation, welcomes the renewed commitment in Congress to protecting consumers over special interests, but makes clear that trust is essential to health IT adoption and participation, and only attainable with privacy protections.

The coalition is calling on Congress to “A.C.T.”, by providing: accountability for access to health records, control of personal information, and transparency to protect medical consumers from abuse. Consumer trust is essential to health IT adoption and participation, and only attainable with privacy safeguards. Through these three tenets, implementation of health IT is not only attainable, but would protect the right to privacy for consumers, employees, and providers.

Coalition wants privacy included with healthcare IT funding in stimulus package

WASHINGTON The Coalition for Patient Privacy urged Congress Wednesday to include privacy safeguards with any funding earmarked for healthcare IT in an economic stimulus package expected to hit President-elect Barack Obama’s desk shortly after inauguration.

The bipartisan coalition, representing more than 30 organizations, individual experts and the Microsoft Corporation, said trust is essential to public adoption of healthcare IT…

…Ashley Katz, executive director of Patient Privacy Rights, said the coalition is asking for “very basic, common sense protections.”

“We all want to innovate and improve healthcare. But without privacy, our system will crash as any system with a persistent and chronic virus will,” she said. “Americans will avoid participation or, worse, avoid care altogether and undoubtedly misrepresent the truth about their medical history.”

Economic Stimulus Package Likely To Cost $850 Billion

The economic stimulus package under development by President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats likely will cost almost $850 billion, including up to $90 billion in additional federal funds for state Medicaid programs…

…In related news, privacy and civil liberties groups on Wednesday sent letters to Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Obama to encourage them to include privacy protections in any provisions in the economic stimulus package that seek to increase adoption of EHRs, CongressDaily reports. The groups — which included the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Action, the National Association of Social Workers and Patient Privacy Rights — said that such protections are needed to prevent unauthorized access to and sale of the medical information of patients. At a briefing on Wednesday, Ashley Katz, executive director of Patient Privacy Rights, said, “We all want to innovate and improve health care, but without privacy our system will crash as any system with a persistent and chronic virus will.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) have expressed support for such protections. Markey in a statement said, “Without robust safeguards, the health IT systems we are planning for today could turn the dream of integrated, seamless electronic health networks into a nightmare for consumers.”

Bipartisan Coalition Sends Letter To Congress Urging Privacy Protections With Health IT

At today’s news conference, the Coalition for Patient Privacy is releasing a letter sent to Congress advocating for the inclusion of privacy safeguards with any funding given to implement health IT systems in the proposed economic stimulus package.

In the letter, the bipartisan coalition, representing over 30 organizations, individual experts and the Microsoft Corporation, welcomes the renewed commitment in Congress to protecting consumers over special interests, but makes clear that trust is essential to health IT adoption and participation, and only attainable with privacy protections.

The coalition is calling on Congress to “A.C.T.”, by providing: accountability for access to health records, control of personal information, and transparency to protect medical consumers from abuse. Consumer trust is essential to health IT adoption and participation, and only attainable with privacy safeguards. Through these three tenets, implementation of health IT is not only attainable, but would protect the right to privacy for consumers, employees, and providers.

Privacy Groups Urge Leaders To Ensure Safeguards For IT

Privacy and civil liberties advocates are urging lawmakers working on the forthcoming economic stimulus package to ensure that any language to spur adoption of electronic medical records includes meaningful security safeguards.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Action, the National Association of Social Workers, Patient Privacy Rights and others sent letters to House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid and President-elect Obama Wednesday asking them to ensure individuals can control the use of their medical records and protect them from what they believe is a thriving industry of firms that share and sell medical data.

“We all want to innovate and improve health care, but without privacy our system will crash as any system with a persistent and chronic virus will,” Patient Privacy Rights executive director Ashley Katz said at a Capitol Hill briefing.

Report: Putting Health IT in Stimulus Would Be Catalyst for Adoption

A panel of health industry experts urged Congress Monday to include health information technology measures in the economic stimulus package widely expected to become law in the weeks following President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Doing so would be “a breakthrough” for health IT adoption, Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, said at a briefing to release a new report touting health IT by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. “The broad adoption of health IT requires the kick-start of federal funding and interoperability policies that first prioritize the free flow of the most essential medical data.”

In recent days, some news reports have suggested that the stimulus will include $20 billion to promote the adoption of electronic medical records, though support has not been unanimous.