Patient Advocacy Groups Urge Greater Focus on Patients’ Choice
Privacy Rights in Health-Reform Debate
June 18, 2009
(Washington, DC)—While Congressional debate is focused primarily on whether to include a public option for health insurance, many Americans remain concerned about how a mandate for private health insurance will affect their health-care choices and privacy.
“We’re hearing politicians promise that if people like their existing insurance coverage, they’ll be able to keep it. But what if the federal government forces people to buy private plans? Won’t insurance companies then have less incentive to respond to consumers’ choices regarding covered benefits,” said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, at a press conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
According to a recent Rasmussen survey 56 percent of Americans oppose a health-insurance mandate, while 31 percent support it and 14 percent aren’t sure. It is imperative that Congress not intrude on patients’ privacy and freedom to choose insurance policies -- including catastrophic only plans -- in any legislation, Blevins noted.
“What happens when insurance companies stop selling certain policies, such as high-deductible catastrophic plans? Clearly, people won’t be able to keep their existing insurance plans if such policies are no longer available in the marketplace,” Blevins said.
Twila Brase, president of Citizens’ Council on Health Care in St. Paul, MN, stated “We expect that giving greater authority to third-party payers -- through either a public option or an individual health-insurance mandate -- would lead to health-care rationing.” She pointed out significant threats to patient choice and health privacy in both the Republicans’ and Democrats’ leading health-reform bills. Brase stressed that “Community screening and monitoring, the establishment of a nationally linked health-data network, and assigning Americans a health-ID number would infringe on patients’ right to self-determination and health privacy.”
Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center in Vienna, VA, added “We would do well to pause during the creation of new health legislation to consider the long-term repercussions of instituting electronic tracking systems that remove medical privacy and informed consent protections.”
For more information, contact the speakers or visit their websites:
Sue Blevins, Institute for Health Freedom, 202/429-6610 (www.ForHealthFreedom.org)
Twila Brase, Citizens’ Council on Health Care, 612/619-1889 (www.cchconline.org)
Barbara Loe Fisher, National Vaccine Information Center, 703/938-0342 (www.nvic.org)