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Economic Stimulus Law Weakens Americans' Control Over Personal Health Information
Date:3/26/2009

WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While it is touted as a major tool for lowering health care costs, the Electronic Health Record (EHR) has serious implications for Americans' health privacy. The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) warns that the economic stimulus law (H.R. 1, Public Law No. 111-5) weakens individuals' control over the flow of their personal health information. "The economic stimulus law plans for every American to use an electronic health record (EHR) and allows those records to be sold for research and public-health purposes -- without patients' consent," said Sue Blevins, IHF president.

"According to some health IT experts, we're entering a 'gold rush' era for health data," Blevins noted. "Sophisticated data-management techniques make it increasingly easy to share individuals' most sensitive health data -- including genetic information -- without their knowing it. The EHR further enables this sharing. That is why addressing patient ownership and consent rights are essential. Such rights will determine whether Americans will either 'own or be owned, control or be controlled' when it comes to their genetic and other personal health data."

"Unfortunately, the economic stimulus law does not guarantee that individuals own and control their genetic and other personal health data. Thus, Congress should act soon to make sure Americans have individual ownership rights and full control over their personal health data as we move toward adopting EHR systems," she said.

IHF released a side-by-side comparison of key aspects of the federal HIPAA privacy rule and the privacy provisions in the economic stimulus law (see: http://www.forhealthfreedom.org/Newsletter/March2009.html#Article2).

The comparison shows clearly that the new law does not give citizens final say
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SOURCE Institute for Health Freedom
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