HIT privacy bill watered significantly down

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Last week the Public Health Committee made significant changes to SB 368, originally designed to protect consumers’ private health information. The bill would have required HITE CT, our state’s developing health information exchange, to get patient consent before sharing any medical records on the exchange. Termed opt-in, this privacy policy has been adopted by all our surrounding states and is working successfully to facilitate patient-centered care. In those states, more than nine out of ten patients agree to share their information. Vermont recently switched from an opt-out policy to opt-in. The alternative opt-out policy, supported by HITE CT, puts every consumers’ information into the system unless they exercise an option through an as-yet-undefined, but deeply underfunded process. Advocates testified in favor but large physician organizations and AARP opposed the bill. The substitute language adopted by the committee adds to HITE CT’s annual report information on how they will inform patients about how their medical information will be used and shared.