WASHINGTON, March 10 — The proposed federal rule to create and exchange electronic health records without patients’ consent threatens Americans’ health privacy, according to the Institute for Health Freedom.
If adopted, the rule will provide higher federal payments to doctors and hospitals for creating and exchanging electronic health records (EHRs), and in a few years will actually penalize doctors and hospitals that do not do so. It will affect all types of patients, not just those on Medicare and Medicaid. Patients’ consent is not required before their personal health information is compiled and shared electronically for many purposes.
More than 600,000 physicians, hospitals and other providers (chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, and podiatrists) — and their patients — will be affected.
Patients’ consent will not be required before personal health information is compiled in EHRs and exchanged electronically with many third parties including government agencies. The data will include weight, body mass index, race, ethnicity and other key pieces of highly personal information.
Doctors will be financially rewarded for using electronic health records and could be paid up to $41,000 over five years for using such records. Then they would be penalized after 2015 if they don’t create electronic health records and exchange information as required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that adopting health-care IT will reduce costs in the health-care system by only 0.3 percent during the 2011-2019 period.