ACLU Applauds Privacy Safeguards In Stimulus Package For Health IT

January 16, 2009 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union was pleased to see privacy protections as a part of the funding being provided for health IT implementation in the economic stimulus package introduced in the House of Representatives this afternoon. Following the incoming administration’s call for a transition to electronic health records and IT systems, Congress has earmarked $20 billion of the overall package to be used for beginning this transfer and adoption. The ACLU has reservations that without sufficient protections against the abuse of individual medical records, notably prohibiting the sale of private medical records, implementation should not move forward.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

“The ACLU commends the House of Representatives for protecting the American public against the sale of their medical records to any willing buyer by including the necessary safeguards in today’s stimulus package. Health IT has the potential to take our healthcare system into the 21st century, but without the proper protections for the individual consumer, it also has the capacity to lead us into an era of ‘medical profiling.’ It could be difficult to obtain insurance or get a job if our family’s medical history was available to anyone willing to pay for this information.

“There was widespread agreement from the ACLU to Microsoft to consumer unions that without prohibitions on the sale of our medical records to profit-driven companies, the adoption and participation by the American public was unlikely. It is encouraging that the calls from patient privacy advocates were met with open ears in the halls of Congress.”

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