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Privacy Rights Smack-down in NH

by John Moore | March 14, 2008

This week, the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire’s House voted down House Bill 1587, a bill that would have strengthened the privacy rights of consumers.

The biggest objections to this bill came from the medical establishment itself claiming that passage of the bill would stall adoption of healthcare IT (HIT) systems. In one of the more bizarre statements Kathleen Bizarro (I’m not making that name up), EVP of the NH Hospital Association stated the bill would “essentially put a halt to the development of electronic medical records.” The medical establishment went on to state that the bill was too onerous, would restrict a physicians ability to provide good care, and that it would exceed existing federal laws (HIPAA).

All of these are pretty empty statements for the following reasons:

  • The bill was designed to simply provide the consumer more control over who gets to see their records. That it not a major burden for providers.  In fact, if a consumer requested an audit trail, the provider/hospital could charge the consumer a fee for providing such a report.
  • Adoption of HIT is not struggling due to privacy/record access issues, nor will it be in the future. HIT is struggling simply because for most physicians, the value proposition is not there.
  • In many states, laws have been passed to strengthen privacy above and beyond HIPAA as HIPAA certainly has its fair share of weaknesses. Unfortunately, most do not know this and hold up HIPAA as the be all to end all for privacy requirements.

Clearly there were other factors at play here as to why these organizations were against the bill. I have not read the bill itself and there may very well be some good reasons to oppose it, but based on the aforementioned arguments that were used, I have the feeling that this was a good bill and that special interests who have a vested interest in keeping firm control of consumers’ health records were at work here.

In a little touch of irony, legislators were granted privacy on this vote as they were able to cast their votes anonymously thereby not showing the public what side of the issue they were on. And it was a close one, defeated 166 to 150. The measure has gone back to committee for revision.

2 responses to “Privacy Rights Smack-down in NH”

  1. […] down House Bill 1587, a bill that would have strengthened the privacy rights of consumers.” Article John Moore, Chilmark research, 14 March […]

  2. […] and it has some people a little upset. For a pro-bill critique of the situation head on over to this blog. Below is an excerpt that discusses why it was rejected. For counter points, check out the […]

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