Privacy groups urge politicians to ensure safeguards for health IT

Andrew Noyes reports on Nextgov:

Privacy and civil liberties advocates are urging lawmakers working on the forthcoming economic stimulus package to ensure that any language to spur adoption of electronic medical records includes meaningful security safeguards.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Action, the National Association of Social Workers, Patient Privacy Rights and others sent letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday asking them to ensure individuals can control the use of their medical records and protect them from what they believe is a thriving industry of firms that share and sell medical data.

“We all want to innovate and improve health care, but without privacy our system will crash as any system with a persistent and chronic virus will,” Patient Privacy Rights executive director Ashley Katz said at a Capitol Hill briefing.


But America’s Health Insurance Plans has concerns that privacy provisions that might wind up in the stimulus bill could harm the healthcare system. While the group supports efforts to move toward an interoperable e-health regime, “it is vital that policymakers consider how this legislation will impact claims payment, quality control, and programs to coordinate care and manage treatment for patients with chronic conditions,” a spokesman for the trade group said. AHIP sent a letter to Kennedy recently detailing its concerns.

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