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News Release

Health Privacy Rights Are Threatened by Proposed Federal Rule for
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

For Release: March 10, 2010
Contact: Sue Blevins (202) 429-6610

(WASHINGTON)—The proposed federal rule to create and exchange electronic health records without patients’ consent threatens Americans’ health privacy, warns the Institute for Health Freedom. 

If adopted, the rule will provide higher federal payments to doctors and hospitals for creating and exchanging electronic health records (EHRs), and in a few years will actually penalize doctors and hospitals that do not do so.  It will affect all types of patients, not just those on Medicare and Medicaid.  Patients’ consent is not required before their personal health information is compiled and shared electronically for many purposes.  

The Institute for Health Freedom encourages Americans to submit their comments about the proposed federal rule before the March 15 deadline. It’s important to note that: 

  • More than 600,000 physicians, hospitals and other providers (chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, and podiatrists) -- and their patients -- will be affected.

  • Patients’ consent will not be required before personal health information is compiled in EHRs and exchanged electronically with many third parties including government agencies. The data will include weight, body mass index, race, ethnicity and other key pieces of highly personal information.

  • Doctors will have to spend about $54,000 each to purchase certified EHR technology and approximately $10,000 annually for maintenance.

  • Doctors will be financially rewarded for using electronic health records and could be paid up to $41,000 over five years for using such records. Then they would be penalized after 2015 if they don’t create electronic health records and exchange information as required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that adopting health-care IT will reduce costs in the health-care system by only 0.3 percent during the 2011-2019 period. 

A summary of the EHR rule’s implications on privacy is posted here: 

A copy of the proposed federal rule is posted here:

Individuals and organizations should submit their comments online here by March 15 (by 5 PM ET):