House Bill will Eviscerate Medical Privacy of Minnesotans

(St. Paul, Minnesota) -- The strongest medical privacy law in the nation is in danger of being dismantled, according to Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC).

"The legislature is about to shred the medical privacy of millions," warns Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

Under a bill carried by Rep. Tim Wilkin (R-Eagan), Minnesota patients will lose their medical privacy rights. By permitting health insurers to follow a federal law that allows disclosure of medical record data without patient consent instead of requiring insurers to comply with a stronger state law that requires patient consent prior to disclosure, health plans and other insurers will be able to freely disclose and exchange personal health data held in private medical records.

"The intimate details of people's lives could soon be disclosed hither and yon, and no accounting of such disclosures would even be required," says Ms. Brase.

"Under House File 2023, the entire population of Minnesota will have their medical privacy rights stripped away," she adds.

The language to expand sharing of personal and privileged data was added last week as an amendment to House File 2023. After a hearing in the House Health Policy and Finance Committee, the bill was sent directly to the floor of the House, bypassing the Civil Law and Elections Committee which is responsible for reviewing all proposed legislation on data issues. It now awaits floor action.

CCHC learned about the amendment on Thursday and requested that the bill be taken to the Civil Law and Elections Committee for a thorough discussion of the privacy issues. On Friday, CCHC was informed that their request was denied.

The Minnesota Council of Health Plans proposed the amendment, the Minnesota Department of Commerce told Brase.

"With the assistance of legislators, health plans have mounted a huge sneak attack on patient privacy," Brase says.

"Only one question remains," she says. "Will they be allowed to get away with it?"

Media Contact:

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