Citizen Demand Forces Truth from Health Commissioner at Public Meeting of the Governor's Health Cabinet

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - Minnesota's Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach was taken to task at today's public meeting introducing the Governor's Health Cabinet.

THE INCIDENT
The incident began when a member of the public asked the group of six Cabinet members about the "best practices" health care initiative they had spent the better part of an hour touting.

The woman asked: "Do I have a right to keep my data out of state government?"

Commissioner Mandernach called patient data collection a "hot button" issue, but said a broader government database is "not where we're going."

"But do I have a right?" the woman persisted.

Mandernach responded, again without directly answering the question.

Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care then spoke up from the back of the room: "Commissioner Mandernach, she deserves to be told the truth. 62J requires that her data be sent to the government without her consent."

A flustered Commissioner Mandernach then exclaimed a quick "Yes!" but said the data collection is not being done now.

"But," said Ms. Brase, "has it been done? Yes."

In fact, Minnesota Statute 62J authorizes patient data collection by the state health department. CCHC's website shows the numbers of identifiable medical records collected under 62J and currently held by the Minnesota Department of Health: /medrecords.php.

PUBLIC MEETINGS: JUST WINDOW DRESSING
The Governor's Health Cabinet explained its plan to get public input on cost containment in acute care settings (clinics and hospitals, not nursing homes) by soliciting comments on their new Cabinet website and holding meetings around the state.

When asked by CCHC to comment on the 2006 expiration date of the new "best practices" law, Kevin Goodno, Commissioner of Human Services, said that whether or not it's law, as a purchaser of health care, state agencies will focus on "best practices."

"From their comments today, it appears that the administration's health care agenda is set, and that government-issued 'best practices' for medical treatment, and use of private patient data to create them, are the cornerstone of the Governor's plan--no matter what the public says," said Ms. Brase.

"Never-the-less, the public, which was not allowed by the Minnesota House to testify on this proposal before it became law, now has an opportunity to express their concerns," she added.

"We only hope that citizens will receive more honest answers than what we saw given here today. It shouldn't take a citizen organization to force government officials to tell the public the truth," said Ms. Brase.

Media Contact:

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