For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tell State Health Officials:
Don't take our
medical records or
send them to Maine!
Saint Paul/Feb. 25, 2009 - In less than 48 hours,
more than 500 people sent letters to the Minnesota Department of Health
(MDH) asking for a public hearing on a plan to seize patient data
without consent and transfer it to a data warehouse in the State of
Maine where it will be accessible to MDH officials for tracking and
analysis, according to Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC).
A state health official contacted CCHC on Monday, confirming that 562
letters were received by the department during the last two days of the
public comment period (Feb 9 - 10), each one of them asking for a
"We call on the Minnesota Department of Health to hold a public hearing
on this intrusive data collection rule. The Minnesota public is
completely unaware that their medical records will soon be sent out of
state and into the online hands of state government officials. The
public has no idea that their data will be used to track them and to
interfere in treatment decisions. They have no idea that they are about
to lose all consent rights over their most private information,"
charges Twila Brase, president of CCHC.
Detailed Patient Data
The "encounter data" initiative become law in the last days of the 2008
legislative session after it appeared in the negotiated health care
reform bill that emerged from the Governor's office. Patient data to be
collected, tracked and analyzed include, but are not limited to:
- doctor's name and national provider identification numbers
- insurance status
- financial information
- service, admission and discharge dates
- injury codes
- relationship codes
- medications, including whether a refill and what date filled
"There was no legislative hearing on this proposal. The public has
never had a real opportunity for input. The health department didn't
even bother to send out a press release about the public comment period
or the one and only meeting they ostensibly held for the public on
January 29th," said Brase.
"To top it all off, health officials made sure that, by law, they don't
have to even hold a public hearing, no matter how many people ask for
one or how many people object to the plan," she added.
Public Objection Squelched. The Minnesota administrative law,
Chapter 14, typically requires an agency to hold a public hearing
before an administrative law judge on a proposed rule if they get 25
letters from the public asking for a public hearing. But the
department's 2008 "encounter data" law calls for "expedited
rulemaking." For expedited rulemaking, at least 100 letters are
typically required for a public hearing to be held on a proposed rule.
However, the 2008 law excluded the 100-letter option, leaving the
public with no legal options for redress.
The final data collection recommendations written by the Maine Health
Information Center have been published
on the health department's website. The Minnesota Department of Health
has already announced plans to publish the "encounter data" rule in
March, with data collection to begin July 1, 2009.
"Concerned Minnesota residents have already sent in more than five
times the number of letters required for a hearing during an expedited
rulemaking procedure. What's the emergency? Why did the Department
do all it could to keep the public in the dark about this intrusive
data collection plan?" asks Brase. "We call on the Minnesota Department
of Health to hold a public hearing."
Twila Brase, President
- CCHC -
Citizens' Council on Health Care supports
freedom for patients and doctors, medical
innovation, and the right to a confidential patient-doctor
# # #
Citizens' Council on Health Care is a non-profit, independent health care policy organization that supports free-market ideas in health care.