The nonpartisan group Consumer Watchdog today called on Google to stop their rumored lobbying effort to include the sale of electronic medical records in the economic stimulus bill. Google wants the provision that they can sell patient information to its advertising clients on its new Google Health database.
In a letter to Congress, the group expressed concerns about patient privacy, “The medical technology portion of the economic stimulus bill does not sufficiently protect patient privacy, and recent amendments have made this situation worse. Medical privacy must be strengthened before the measure’s final passage, rather than allowing corporate interests to take advantage of the larger bill’s urgency. …”
On Friday, Republican Rep. Roy Blount added an amendment to the bill that would allow pharmacists to sell private medical information without a patient’s knowledge. The bill would also exempt the selling of private medical records for the purposes of research, and private medical information could also be sold to associates of companies who are holding the medical information for the purpose of activities on behalf the company holding the information. Worst of all, in the current draft of the legislation patients have no way of tracking who has been accessing their medical records.
There have been amendments introduced by Democratic members that would require that privacy must be maintained, and databases can’t be accessed by unauthorized persons. The danger with the selling of medical records is a loss of privacy. Potential employers could base their hiring practices on an applicant’s medical records. Banks and lender could deny someone a loan on the basis of their medical history. It is also certain that the selling of medical records would lead to identity theft. The above mentioned are all reasons why privacy must be maintained. I don’t understand how this would not be a violation of HIPPA. This is a terrible idea that we can only hope is not included in the final legislation.