HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROMOTION ACT OF 2006 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 28, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4157) to amend the Social Security Act to encourage the dissemination, security, confidentiality, and usefulness of health information technology:
* Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, as an OB-GYN with over 40 years experience in medical practice, I understand the need to improve the health care system's efficiency by increasing the use of electronic medical records. However, H.R. 4157 is neither a constitutional nor a wise means of achieving this worthy goal.
* Creating a new federal department to develop a ``national strategic plan'' for the use of electronic health care records will inevitably lead to the imposition of a ``one-size-fits all'' standard and will discourage private parties from exploring other more innovative means of storing medical records electronically. By stifling private sector innovation, H.R. 4157 guarantees that the American people will have an inferior health information technology system. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues: when has a government system ever performed as well as a system developed by the private sector? In fact, Mr. Speaker, based on my 40 years of experience, I would say a major reason the health profession lags behind other professions in using information technology is the excessive government intervention in, and control of, America's health care system!
* Those who are concerned with the increasing erosion of medical privacy should also oppose H.R. 4157. H.R. 4157 facilitates the invasion of medical privacy by explicitly making electronic medical records subject to the misnamed federal ``medical privacy'' regulation. Mr. Speaker, many things in Washington are misnamed, however this regulation may be the most blatant case of false advertising I have come across in all my years in Congress. Rather than protect an individual right to medical privacy, these regulations empower government officials to determine how much medical privacy an individual needs.
* The so-called ``medical privacy'' regulation not only reduce individuals'' ability to determine who has access to their personal medical information, but actually threatens medical privacy and constitutionally protected liberties. For example, these regulations allow law enforcement and other government officials' access to a citizen's private medical record without having to obtain a search warrant.
* Allowing government officials to access a private person's medical records without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects American citizens from warrantless searches by government officials. The requirement that law enforcement officials obtain a warrant from a judge before searching private documents is one of the fundamental protections against abuse of the government's power to seize an individual's private documents. While the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted to allow warrantless searches in emergency situations, it is hard to conceive of a situation where law enforcement officials would be unable to obtain a warrant before electronic medical records would be destroyed.
* By creating a new federal bureaucracy to establish a ``national strategic plan'' for the adoption of electronic health care records, H.R. 4157 discourages private sector innovation and expands government control of the medical profession. H.R. 4157 also facilities the violation of medical privacy. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to reject this bill.