Privacy Issue Complicates Push to Link Medical Data

Robert Pear reports:

President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to link up doctors and hospitals with new information technology, as part of an ambitious job-creation program, is imperiled by a bitter, seemingly intractable dispute over how to protect the privacy of electronic medical records.

Lawmakers, caught in a crossfire of lobbying by the health care industry and consumer groups, have been unable to agree on privacy safeguards that would allow patients to control the use of their medical records.


Lawmakers leading the campaign for such safeguards include Representatives Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Pete Stark of California, both Democrats; Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont; and Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine.

Without strong safeguards, Mr. Markey said, the dream of electronic health information networks could turn into “a nightmare for consumers.”


Lobbyists for insurers, drug benefit managers and others in the health industry are mobilizing a campaign to persuade Congress that overly stringent privacy protections would frustrate the potential benefits of digital records.

Read the full story in the NY Times

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