Privacy Trumps Profit in Obama’s $19 Billion Health Stimulus

Nicole Gaouette reports:

Patients’ advocates claimed victory in a battle over the privacy of health records as the U.S. Congress prepares to vote on the economic stimulus bill, which contains $19 billion for health-care information.

U.S. House and Senate negotiators’ compromise reflects stricter standards that privacy advocates wanted for marketing, selling and disclosing health data. Both houses may vote on the $789 billion stimulus today.

[…]

Currently, drug companies can pay pharmacies to mine patient data for sales pitches. The bill would require pharmacies, including CVS Caremark Corp., the pharmacy-benefits manager and drugstore chain, to get customer permission to market drugs they aren’t already taking.

The bill also would tighten restrictions on the sale of medical data and require patients be told when their records are disclosed.

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