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

"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."

by / January 26, 2009 0

"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." -- Sue A. Blevins, IHF president.

The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) warned  today that the economic stimulus bill mandates 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 said. "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."

According to IHF, provisions of the economic stimulus bill include:

  • "The utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014."
  • "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, said IHF. 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.

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.