National Health Database
Do you approve of having your personal health information (including genetic data) connected to a nationally linked health-data network without your knowledge or permission? On November 15, 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its plans for a National Health Information Network (NHIN) within ten years. This plan includes establishing "interoperable" (easily exchanged) electronic health records (EHRs) for all citizens.
Here are some important issues for Americans to consider and voice their opinions about:
(1) What effect will the creation of electronic health records and the NHIN have on citizens' privacy? This is especially important to consider, given that the HIPAA Privacy Rule eliminates individuals' freedom to give or withhold their consent before their health information is released to others.
(2) Will citizens be required to have a "unique health identifier" or other unique tracking device to make sure records are not duplicated in the NHIN?
(3) Will citizens have a right to know who has accessed their health information compiled in or linked to the national network of health information?
(4) Is participation in the NHIN voluntary or mandatory for individuals?
(5) Is participation voluntary or mandatory for doctors and other health-care providers? If so, this would essentially make participation mandatory for their patients too.
Congressman Ron Paul introduced legislation (H.R. 2630, titled "Protect Patients and Physicians Privacy Act") in 2009 to make participation in the forthcoming federally linked health-records database voluntary for both individuals and physicians (and other health-care providers).
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(Summary updated November 2009)