MN Health Committee Tables Governor's Online Medical Records Bill after CCHC Testified

Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

-- Yesterday's late-night decision by the MN House Health and Human Services Committee to table the Governor's proposed Health Records Act for a much longer discussion was a good decision, says Citizens' Council on Health Care.

"Threats to the right of patient consent should not be taken lightly. Online medical records need patient consent requirements. We are pleased that committee members on both sides of the aisle felt so uncomfortable with this attempt to undo current patient consent requirements that they decided to table it for further discussion and debate."

The Governor's bill, House File 1726, was written by the Minnesota Department of Health. It was developed by the Minnesota e-Health Advisory Committee, a group primarily made up of the health care industry, health plans, government, and large employer groups.

In her testimony, Ms. Brase quoted a letter from the Minnesota Department of Health which said HF 1726 is the Department's "proposal for eliminating patient consent related barriers to the electronic exchange of health information."

Ms. Brase also testified to the following concerns:

NO CONSENT: Patient identifying data and the location of all their medical record could be placed into an electronic central registry, the proposed Record Locator Service (RLS), without patient consent or knowledge.

RLS REVEALS: With the location of every medical record listed in the Record Locator Service, the fact that a person has been to an oncologist, chemical dependency clinic, psychologist or any other specialty care will be revealed to those with access to the RLS.

MEDICAL ID THEFT: The bill allows "other non-clinical data" to be placed in the RLS to uniquely identify each person. This could include social security numbers, cell phone numbers, drivers' license number, place of work, name of spouse, etc.

PUBLIC POLLS: A recent Harris poll found that 42% of the public thinks the risks of an online medical record system outweigh the benefits, and 21% want the right to not have their records online.

SECOND TRY: In 2003, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) proposed a rule requiring hospitals and health plans to send comprehensive private medical data on all Minnesotans to the department. The public's outcry made front page news, and the rule was withdrawn. HF 1726 would enable 24/7 electronic access by MDH to all records.

"Online medical records pose new and serious threats to patients and the public at large. Patient consent to have their records placed online remains the patient's best protection against those who would readily access their private data, or use the data in their medical records against them," said Brase.

Media Contact:

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