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News Release

Economic Stimulus Bill Mandates Electronic Health Records
for Every Citizen without Opt-out or Patient Consent Provisions
 

Updated February 9, 2009

(Washington, DC)—The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) warns that the economic stimulus bill mandates the federal government to plan for electronic health records for every citizen without providing for opt-out or patient consent provisions.  "Without those protections, Americans’ electronic health records could be shared—without their consent—with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health-records network," says Sue A. Blevins, IHF president.

“President Obama has pledged to advance freedom.  Therefore the freedom to choose not to participate in a national electronic health-records system must be upheld,” Blevins says. “Unless people have the right to decide if and when their health information is shared or whether to participate in research studies, they don’t have a true right to privacy.”

IHF calls on Americans who care about health privacy to contact their members of Congress and President Obama to voice their own opinions about the need for opt-out and patient consent provisions, to ensure true patient privacy rights.

Some provisions of the economic stimulus bill include:

  • “The utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014.” (See p. 445 of H.R. 1)
  • “The National Coordinator shall perform the duties…consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that…facilitates health and clinical research…”

The federal medical privacy rule promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) already permits the disclosure of personal health information without patient consent for treatment, payment, and oversight of the healthcare system.  IHF has long called for modification of the HIPAA rule to restore patient consent in order to preserve the confidential doctor-patient relationship. The stimulus bill fails to restore patient consent, while at the same time, mandating electronic health records and facilitating the electronic exchange of every American's health information.

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The Institute for Health Freedom is a national nonprofit, educational organization whose mission is to bring the issues of personal health freedom to the forefront of the American health-policy debate. IHF monitors and reports on national policies that affect citizens' freedom to choose their health-care treatments and providers, and to maintain their health privacy—including genetic privacy. IHF is not affiliated with any other organization. © 2009 Institute for Health Freedom.