New Privacy Provisions Could Push Passage of Health IT Bill

On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said he reached an agreement with the authors of the Wired for Health Care Quality Act (S 1693) -- Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) -- to include more privacy and security provisions in the bill, Modern Healthcare reports.

The provisions would:

  • Prevent operators of personal health record databases from distributing patient information;
  • Restrict the use of health information for marketing purposes;
  • Require HHS to report to Congress about further privacy guidelines; and
  • Guarantee individuals the right to view a copy of their electronic health records.

The privacy provisions would likely be written into a substitute bill that could be introduced in the next few weeks, Modern Healthcare reports (DoBias, Modern Healthcare, 5/15).

Leahy plans to hold a hearing on the privacy protections next month (Edney, CongressDaily, 5/15).


The legislation still has some opposition. A handful of senators say they want even stronger protections included in the bill. The Patient Privacy Rights Foundation said it would not support Leahy's proposed changes (Modern Healthcare, 5/15).

Meanwhile, some lawmakers oppose a provision in the bill that would provide about $300 million in grants and loans to help cover the cost of EHR systems.

In addition, the Bush administration has identified some technical changes that it would like made, according to a Kennedy spokesperson (CongressDaily, 5/15).

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