United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
December 10, 2007
We are writing to urge your support for the Wired for Health Care Quality Act, S.1693. We believe that the bill provides sorely needed federal leadership and coordination of HIT efforts, and is greatly improved over the version that passed the Senate in the 109th Congress. Expanded use of HIT has great potential to help patients and their families assume a more participatory role in their own health care, improve the safety and quality of care, and increase system efficiency. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act will move us forward toward achieving these goals and we are pleased to support its passage by the Senate.
We remain concerned, however, that the bill does not include sufficiently strong language requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt a privacy and security framework that covers all generally accepted fair information practices and governs all federally funded efforts to advance HIT. As noted in our previously submitted comments, for at least the past three years we have been pushing HHS (and in particular, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) to adopt an overarching set of privacy and security principles (or a privacy and security framework) to govern its activities. To date, HHS has declined to do so and instead has aggressively pursued the development of technical standards that can be used to certify HIT products and that will advance narrow categories of HIT activities, or “use cases.”
Ensuring that patients and consumers trust in the system’s ability to protect their personal health information is critical to advancing HIT, so important privacy and security issues must be addressed at the outset. As the bill moves through the legislative process, we hope that this issue will receive further consideration.
National Partnership for Women & Families
Center for Medical Consumers
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
Health Care For All
National Consumers League