Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

KAUFMAN Says Economic Recovery Package Should Promote Privacy of Electronic Health Care Records

At first Judiciary Committee hearing, questions witnesses on patient privacy

KAUFMAN Says Economic Recovery Package Should Promote Privacy of Electronic Health Care Records

January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), at his first hearing as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned several witnesses on the adequacy of current privacy protections for electronic health records. Sen. Kaufman was specifically focused on whether the economic recovery plan will include proper safeguards for privacy protections of electronic health records.

“The economic recovery plan is an incredible opportunity,” Sen. Kaufman said. “But my main concern with regard to health records is privacy. Does the plan, as drafted, pay sufficient attention to crafting privacy protections that are meaningful, adequate, and workable?”

After responses from the witnesses, Kaufman pressed further, asking if the experts were comfortable with their understanding of the economic recovery plan and how long they think it would take to make proper changes to protect patient privacy.

“How far along are we on ensuring these protections?” Kaufman asked. “How long do you think it would take to develop?”

Kaufman said he was pleased to hear the witnesses mostly agree that the economic recovery plan seems to have the safeguards in place, with some minor changes suggested.

The hearing, entitled “Health IT: Protecting Americans' Privacy in the Digital Age”, focused on the critical need for adequate privacy protections in the drive to encourage adoption of electronic health records throughout the health care system. Health information technology holds enormous potential to improve the quality of care that Americans receive, but many believe there must be robust privacy protections in order to create the high degree of public confidence and trust needed to encourage widespread adoption of electronic health records.

Witnesses included representatives from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Microsoft Corporation, the Center for Health Transformation, Consumers Union and the Vermont State Legislature’s Health Care Reform Commission.

Senator Kaufman, sworn in on January 16, is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.

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