GOP Senator Pushes HHS on Patients’ Access to Health Data

February 21, 2014 in News

On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that the agency clarify its policies on giving patients access to their medical information, The Hill‘s RegWatch” reports.

In his letter, Alexander highlighted contradicting HHS policies that he said will “slow down” efforts to give patients direct access to their health information and argued that the agency is resisting making medical test results directly available to consumers.

He wrote, “This is the information age,” adding, “Individuals should have direct access to personal health information, and federal policies should clearly support that goal.”

Alexander criticized the agency for “not trusting” patients with their own health records and noted that “[c]onsumers who want to take control of their health should have the right to their personal information.”

However, he did acknowledge that Sebelius recently commented on the importance of giving consumers access to their health data, such as lab results (Devaney, “RegWatch,” The Hill, 2/20).

Earlier this month, the Obama administration released a final rule allowing patients and their designees to directly access laboratory results, instead of having to request them from physicians.

Sebelius in a statement said the rule will give individuals broader control over their health care, possibly “empower[ing]” them “to track their health progress, make decisions with their health care professionals and adhere to important treatment plans” (iHealthBeat, 2/4).

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