Health department's legal authority to collect private medical data remains intact

St. Paul, Minnesota - Although the Minnesota Department of Health has today withdrawn the proposed rule to collect patient medical record data without patient consent, the public should not be relieved. So says Citizens' Council on Health Care, the Minnesota health care policy organization who has long opposed this plan.

"The public should not heave a collective sigh of relief. This does not stop the department from collecting patient data without patient consent or knowledge. The health department never needed the rule to collect the data. Authority to collect private patient data remains in law."

According to CCHC, the only reason the department wrote the rule was to appease the Attorney General's office who tried to repeal their data collection authority in 2000.

Brase noted that the department's news release states that the department will "seek a solution that balances the need to protect public health with the need to protect patient privacy."

"The department should not get patient data without patient consent. Whenever privacy gets 'balanced' against anything, privacy loses. There is no half loaf of privacy. The only way to protect the privacy rights and personal autonomy of citizens is by acknowledging their right to withhold consent for state collection of personal data."

Rep. Bill Haas (R-Champlin) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) have introduced bills to repeal the state's authority to collect patient data. House File 297 has passed through three policy committees and is on its way to the HHS Finance Committee. Senate File 795 has yet to be given a hearing although its author has requested one.

"These bills address the public's concerns. Without a repeal of the department's legal authority to collect data, the public is left only with the word of the department that they won't do it. That's not good enough," said Brase.

Media Contact:

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