Microsoft, Patient Privacy Advocates, Mental Health Providers Support TRUST Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) late yesterday introduced the Technologies for Restoring Users' Security and Trust (TRUST) in Health Information Act, H.R. 5442, to promote the use of information technology within our health care system while protecting the privacy and security of Americans’ personal medical information.

 "The spread of health IT holds tremendous promise for improving patient care, reducing medical errors and lowering costs. But this dream could quickly  turn into a nightmare for consumers without sufficient privacy and security safeguards to protect personal medical records from unauthorized access," said Rep. Markey, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "With the right safeguards in place, consumers will be able to trust health IT systems and doctors and providers will be able to confidently use this infrastructure to improve patient care."

"With the adoption of health information technology, we can reduce errors, save billions of dollars and millions of lives. But we should never lose sight of the fact that the patient will always come first," said Rep. Emanuel, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "As medical records and patient histories become electronic, phrases like ‘security,' ‘privacy,' and ‘access' should become just as important as ‘take two of these and call me in the morning.'"

"Microsoft applauds the introduction of this bill.  It represents an important step in strengthening the safety of consumers' health information and we support the bill's goals of ensuring personal privacy, security, and confidentiality with respect to health related information.  We look forward to working together as it moves forward in the legislative process," said Frank Torres, Director of Consumer Affairs, Microsoft.

"Trust between patient and physician is sacrosanct; for effective treatment, the patient must reveal their most intimate secrets to their physician. The doctor/patient relationship of trust is eroding and without assurances of privacy that trust will be swept away as rapidly as a sand castle by the first wave," said Dr. Deborah Peel, Founder and Chair of Patient Privacy Rights.  "Patient trust and patient control over their personal information will make HIT progress possible. I commend Congressman Markey and Congressman Emanuel for their excellent work on this bill, which takes a giant step forward to ensure the benefits that health technology can offer and restore consumers' rights to control personal health information."

The TRUST Act will encourage the development of health IT networks through grants and standard-setting processes while also ensuring that patients' medical records will be protected by strong privacy and security safeguards within these systems.  For example, H.R. 5442:

  • Empowers patients to keep their medical records out of health IT systems unless they first give their consent;
  • Requires patients to be notified if systems containing their health information are breached and their records are exposed;
  • Mandates the use of data security safeguards such as encryption and other technologies that render information unreadable to individuals who are not authorized to access it;
  • Authorizes grant funding to enable the purchase and enhance the use of qualified health IT systems;
  • Establishes a public-private partnership to make recommendations concerning health IT standards, criteria for the electronic exchange of personal health information and related purposes to encourage the creation of a nationwide interoperable health information technology infrastructure

The TRUST Act is also endorsed by the following groups: American Psychoanalytic Association, American Association of Practicing Psychiatrists, National Association of Social Workers, Alliance for Patient Safety, Citizens for Health Consumer Action, Consumers for Healthcare Choices, Gun Owners of America, Just Health, The Mulitracial Activist, National Coalition for Mental Health Professionals & Consumers, The New Grady Coalition, Patient Privacy Rights, Private Citizen, Inc., The Student Health Integrity Project (SHIP), U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, You Take Control, Inc.

February 15, 2008

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836