NH: House kills medical privacy bill

Reported in the New Hampshire Business Review:

The New Hampshire House narrowly defeated a bill that would have required additional privacy restrictions on electronic medical records, which hospitals have said were too costly.

The bill would have extended the federal privacy rights known as HIPAA to business associates, such as software vendors, and restrict access to fund-raisers and marketers. It also would have allowed patients to place additional restrictions on their records, and would have required that the hospital produce an audit trail, at the patient’s expense, detailing who had access to a patient’s medical information

Opponents said that the measure would result in costly and extensive training in the privacy

“It’s another layer of bureaucracy,” said Alida Milham, R-Gilford, who also sits on the board of trustees of Lakes Region General Hospital.

Rep. John DeJoie, D-Concord, warned of unintended consequences, including information not getting to doctors who needed it, costs that would drive up health-care premiums and the printing of huge audits that don’t really serve any medical purpose.

But supporters said that the bill’s costs would be modest. Physician privacy restrictions are already in the software, and it wouldn’t cost that much more to give the same right to patients. And they noted that patients would have to pay for the audits. The opponents are just raising “red herring” concerns, said Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare.

“It’s really about power and money,” said Kurk. “The hospitals don’t want to give up control on who has access for these records. Hospitals don’t want to change. They want to keep their power.”

In voting on the bill, lawmakers protected their own privacy, holding an electronic division vote, which is akin to a secret ballot, instead of a roll-call vote, which would reveal to the public where they stood on the issue.

The bill failed, 150-166, but was then sent back to interim study, which means it might be back next year.

Source – New Hampshire Business Review

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