From the Wires
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
By: PR Newswire
Jan. 27, 2009 09:52 AM
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/
Download Consumer Watchdog's letter urging Congress to refuse Google's amendments and detailing five areas of needed patient privacy improvements: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/PrivacyLetterCongress.pdf
In the letter sent today, Consumer Watchdog wrote:
"Americans will benefit from an integrated system capable of making our medical records available wherever we may need them, but only if the system is properly used.
"The medical technology portion of the economic stimulus bill does not sufficiently protect patient privacy, and recent amendments have made this situation worse. Medical privacy must be strengthened before the measure's final passage, rather than allowing corporate interests to take advantage of the larger bill's urgency. ...
"First and foremost, electronic medical records should be designed to benefit patients, not the corporate interests lobbying hard on Capitol Hill to get a piece of the
The 5 patient privacy protections that Consumer Watchdog urged Congress to adopt in the electronic medical record section of the Economic Stimulus bill, include:
1. Retain & Strengthen Prohibition on Sale of Private Medical Data. Our private medical information, including which prescription drugs we take and which illnesses we have, is extremely valuable to the medical-insurance complex. Some want to market to us, others want to use this information to deny us access to insurance coverage. For instance:
These blatant attempts to weaken privacy protections all must be turned back.
2. Provide an "Audit Trail" To Track Who Accesses Our Records. Under the current version of the bill, a patient is not able to track which medical personnel access their medical records or how that information is used. The measure must be amended to allow patients to request an "audit trail" detailing when their medical record was accessed, by whom, and for what purpose.
3. Make Database Holders Accountable for Keeping Our Medical Records Private. Companies developing electronic medical record technology must be fully accountable for the safe keeping of our information. "Safe harbor" provisions in the current legislation that would insulate these interests from accountability must be removed. For example, the current version of the bill shields database holders from telling patients when possible identity thieves access their private information as long as the data disclosure was "unintentional" and the company acted in "good faith."
4. Allow States To Adopt More Protective Standards. Currently the bill allows states to establish additional privacy regulation and enforce existing requirements. These provisions must remain part of the final proposal. Other federal health care laws, like HIPPA, Medicaid, and COBRA, provide a model for a federal-state partnership rather than federal pre-emption of more protective state standards. States have traditionally been the laboratories of innovation in patient privacy. In fact, the gold standard for medical privacy is the
5. Retain House Amendments Protecting Private Information. Last week, Congressman
SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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