CCHC REPORT PROFILES THE PUBLIC'S RESPONSE TO MINNESOTA'S PLAN TO COLLECT PRIVATE MEDICAL RECORD INFORMATION

Report provides details on the written comments of the public to proposed health surveillance in Minnesota.

St. Paul, Minnesota - Although Congress has just passed the Homeland Security Act to expand government surveillance powers across America, the people of Minnesota have spoken up in opposition to health surveillance.

In a report released yesterday by St. Paul-based Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC), Minnesota citizens oppose the state's proposed rule to use individually-identifiable private medical records for surveillance and research without patient consent.

The 28-page report, State Collection of Private Medical Information: Public Response to Minnesota's Proposed Rule finds nearly 94 percent of the 1,086 public comments on the rule opposed to the state health department's proposal to collect individually-identifiable medical record data without patient consent. The report provides background on the rule, as well as many pages of direct quotes from letters sent to the health department and the judge who held a hearing on the rule in early October.

"We wanted the public and policy makers to hear what the public had said. We didn't want the public's comments inaccessible and buried in a government office. This report is people speaking in their own words - both supporters and opponents of the proposed data rule," said Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

Quotes from the public include:

OPPOSITION AND CONCERN:

  • Individuals and Patients
  • Data Professionals
  • Health Care Professionals
  • Health Insurance Companies
  • Legal/Research Professionals
  • Out-of-State Citizens
  • Citizen Organizations
  • Elected Officials

SUPPORTERS:

  • Individuals
  • Government agencies
  • Health Plans
  • Employer Groups
  • Professional Organizations
  • Health Data Organizations
  • Out-of-state commenters

PUBLIC SENTIMENT - SHORT TAKES

MN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH:

  • Rationale for the Rule
  • Response to Specific Concerns

The proposed rule (Proposed Permanent Rule Regarding Administrative Billing Data, Minnesota Rules 4653) was published August 18, 2002 and public comments were accepted through September 18, 2002. CCHC's email alert resulted in the health department holding a hearing on October 4, 2002. Judge Allan W. Klein took public comments through October 24, 2002, and letters of rebuttal through October 31, 2002. By law, he must render a decision by December 2, 2002. If approved by the judge, the Governor has the authority to veto the rule. The legislature can also address the enabling law in the 2003 session whether or not the rule is approved.

"In a time when elected officials are moving toward expanded government surveillance, the public still believes in their constitutional right to privacy. This report can serve as a measure of the public's response to infringement on that right," said Brase.

"How private medical information will be treated in Minnesota and across the nation is a key decision for the public. If health surveillance is allowed to progress, the public is likely to develop a adversarial view of the health care system and government officials. The result will be detrimental to the public's health," says Brase.

The CCHC report can be found at their web site here.   

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)
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