Capitol Correspondence - 03.03.20

American Medical Association Expresses Concern About HHS Move to Free Patient Data

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ANCOR is sharing this article because our members are required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which contains provisions protecting individual health data. While it is unclear how the proposal reported on by Politico Pro will interact with HIPAA, it is important for our members to be aware of this policy conversation, particularly as the use of electronic health records is likely to become more widespread in various sectors over time. As reported by Politico Pro:

“The American Medical Association released guidelines helping health care providers share medical records with patients in advance of upcoming HHS rules freeing up the data.

The organization said its guidebook is designed to clear up confusion about legal and operational barriers to data sharing. It outlines best practices for giving patients their own data while also protecting their privacy, including how to handle patient requests involving third parties, allowable charges and the confidentiality of substance use information.

The powerful lobbying group has urged ONC and CMS to incorporate more privacy protections for patients in forthcoming rules ordering providers and insurers to use common data sharing standards, enabling patients to download it or share it with apps. Those two rules are being reviewed by OMB.

There’s been intense debate among providers, software vendors and patients about whether HHS should delay the rules to incorporate more privacy protections guarding against potential misuse by tech companies, or rapidly finalize them so patients can get quicker access to their data.

AMA board of trustees Chairman Jesse Ehrenfeld said the organization “believes that providing patients with improved information access and better information privacy are not mutually exclusive goals.”