What Every Patient Should Know About Privacy

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom: What Every Patient Should Know About Privacy

CCHF Leader Twila Brase Shares Info about HIPAA, Baby DNA, Coerced Consent, Hippocratic Oath and More at D.C. Gathering


ST. PAUL, Minn.Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org) president and co-founder Twila Brase was a featured speaker yesterday at the National Physicians Council for Healthcare Policy meeting in Washington, D.C., asking the important and timely question, “Patient Privacy: Where Art Thou?”

“Restoring confidentiality, privacy rights, and patient-centered care and freedom should be of paramount concern,” Brase said. “Yet many patients don’t realize their private medical information is at risk every day, whether through sharing enabled by electronic health records, the signing of the HIPAA ‘privacy’ acknowledgement statement, which doesn’t protect privacy at all, the taking, storage and use of Baby DNA—the genetic blueprint of every child—or a host of other reasons.”

At the meeting, Brase shared information on timely privacy issues every American should know:

  • HIPAA does not protect privacy—Contrary to popular belief, HIPAA is a permissive rule and does not protect privacy or eliminate previous consent requirements for data sharing. Currently, private medical data can be accessed by 2.2 million entities if given access by a “covered entity,” such as clinic, health plan or hospital. Government agencies can also access patient data without consent.
     
  • Electronic Health Records (EHRs) compromise care and confidentiality—The government has spent $37 billion in incentive payments for doctors and hospitals to buy, install and use the EHR as a government reporting tool under “meaningful use,” merit-based incentive payments (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APMs).
     
  • Coercive consent forms deprive patients of privacy rights—Many practices use blanket consent forms, where patients are signing off on much of their private information with just one swipe of a pen.
     
  • Parents “in the dark” on genetic intrusions: Newborn DNA is taken by government as part of state newborn genetic screening programs. At least 16 states store this genetic information from two years to indefinitely. Some states collect, store, use, analyze, conduct research or disseminate this DNA without parental consent. A 2009 study found that only 28 percent of parents approve of newborn DNA being used for research without consent. The pending final version of the federal “Common Rule” requires no consent for research on deidentified specimens, which include newborn dried blood spots. CCHF is urging leaders in the Trump administration to insert protective parent consent language in the final Common Rule before it is released.
     
  • 21st Century Cures Act creates an “Information Commons”—The Act requires sharing by researchers into a common pool, permits access by all researchers regardless of their training or motives, and creates a “global pediatric clinical study network.”
     
  • Americans want medical privacy—According to a 2008 Harris study, just 1 percent are willing to allow researcher access without consent. Politico also reported last month that 20 to 30 percent out of 4,000 “All of Us” research participants refused to consent to EHR access. A 2000 Gallup survey also revealed the following:
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    • 78 percent—Medical records should be confidential
    • 93 percent—No researcher access to genetic information without consent
    • 92 percent—Oppose government access without their permission
    • 67 percent—Oppose researcher access to medical records without consent
       
  • The Hippocratic oath requires physicians to keep patient’s data private—“Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.”—Hippocratic Oath (c. 400 BC)

Brase also offered action steps to restore privacy and protect from government and corporate control, including:

  • Add patient consent (opt-in) requirements for data sharing to all health care legislation
  • End EHR and MIPS mandates, refuse the government EHR and refuse to comply with MIPS
  • Inform patients about EHR controls and health surveillance
  • Prohibit and do not use coercive, consolidated consent forms
  • Work toward freedom from third-party payment

CCHF aims to restore health freedom, for both patients and doctors, and free patients from third-party intrusion through the innovative initiative The Wedge of Health Freedom® (www.JointheWedge.com). Today, more than 200 medical practicesin 44 states around the country have joined The Wedge, which is using third-party-free direct payment to transform the entire health care system back to freedom and restore simplicity, affordability and confidentiality.

The National Physicians Council for Healthcare Policy works to provide a strong, national voice for the physician engaged in private practice to facilitate policies that advance transparent, market-based health care and rules and regulations that are well understood, build value and improve quality.

For more information about CCHF, visit www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page or its Twitter feed @CCHFreedom. Also view the media page for CCHF here. For more about CCHF’s initiative The Wedge of Health Freedom, visit www.JointheWedge.comThe Wedge Facebook page or follow The Wedge on Twitter @wedgeoffreedom.

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