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Medical privacy protection (vetoed)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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Gov. Tim Pawlenty put the axe to a bill May 8 that would have prohibited health care providers from disclosing an individual patient’s financial or medical debt information to another entity.

Sponsored by Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park), the bill would have also prohibited health care providers from obtaining or using financial or medical debt information until after health care services have been provided to a patient.

Health care providers could have shared debt information with the patient and patient’s insurer or authorized third-party debt management services provider.

In his veto message, the governor wrote the bill doesn’t define “financial information,” or “medically necessary,” and that without the definitions there would be confusion that would likely result in “significant unintended consequences.” Further, “this bill could force significant changes in the delivery of routine medical services in Minnesota and unnecessarily impact the costs to Minnesotans,” he wrote.

About one-third of Americans have problems with medical debt and seek medical assistance because they have to, said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Harrington. The change would prevent health care providers from rationing care to those with debt, he said.


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