CCHC Statement on Today's HHS Report on National Health Data System

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - In response to today's release of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' report: "Summary of Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) Request for Information (RFI) Responses," Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care releases the following statement:

"We are pleased to see that the issue of patient privacy was considered to be 'pervasive' in the comments received by the department. Indeed, as we wrote in our own response to the November 15th RFI, "Current law in the form of the federal 'medical privacy' rule does not provide stringent privacy and security protections for patients as asserted in the November 15 notice. In fact, there is less protection now for patients than before the rule was written.

"Furthermore, it is heartening to see that more than one-half of the 500 responses came from individuals, and that 85 percent of the responses from individuals passionately expressed their concerns about losing their medical privacy under a national health data system.

"That said, we remain concerned that the concerns of individuals will be dismissed - swept under the carpet of political agendas, big players, and expedience. Despite thousands and thousands of similar concerns expressed about the proposed HIPAA medical privacy rule in 1999, neither the Clinton or the Bush administrations saw fit to protect the citizens' right of patient consent - the right to deny access to private medical record information.

"In addition, we remain firmly convinced, as we wrote in our response, that there is no compelling public interest in the development of a national health information system. In fact, a recent Harris poll finds only 29% even aware of the plan, and of those surveyed 47% believing the risk to privacy outweighs the benefits.

"The NHIN is not the brain child of the American public. The NHIN has been proposed by data collectors, data miners, data profiteers, and public and private purveyors of health surveillance and statistically-devised rationing of care. These include government agencies, health plans, disease management companies, researchers, and the more than 200 members of WEDI, the Working Group on Electronic Data Interchange.

"Despite not actually been asked to comment on the NHIN, the public has spoken. Genuine, passionate concerns have been expressed. Whether HHS actually listens this time around remains to be seen."

HHS Report:
CCHC Comments: /pdf/NHIN_public_comments.pdf

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935