Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stimulus Plan A Boon for Jail Construction?

It’s Daytona Sunday, with rain on the way, so there won’t be much blogging, but one piece that comes to mind is how much of the economic stimulus bill is tied into law enforcement projects. I am looking into a few, and I see a fellow member of the NACDL, already has- on her Talk Left blog which you can access in our right hand legal links column. It is a super site. Can't say this surprises me, but Jeralyn Merrit is all over it already.
She is labeling it the “Let’s Put People in Jail Stimulus Package”

Separately, the ACLU blog is pointing out today that another one of the initiatives included in the economic stimulus package is to provide funding to begin the transition from paper to digital medical records. The move to paperless records has the potential to increase the efficiency of our health care system, which can lead to lower costs for consumers and providers. But anything that as private as medical records which become easily accessible opens the door for significant abuse.

The ACLU is asserting that strong privacy protections were included in the final wording of the bill, and hopefully so. I had the privilege a few years ago of representing thousands of HIV patients, whose medical records were improperly seized by the State as they sought to ferret out allegations of medical fraud, which had nothing to do with the conduct of the patients. There were some great lawyers leading the way on that case, including Faith Gay and Mark Nurik. And Judge Elijah Williams distinguished himself by insuring that the treatment of HIV patients would not be impaired by the seizure of their records.

Matter of fact, Florida has a damn good law protecting the privacy rights and medical records of patients. And now the federal government has added on those HIPPA rules, which none of us understand but in our heart we know they will one day interfere with our right to reach a loved one in a hospital, and we will flip out.

Anyway, the strongest protection included in the new bill was a partial prohibition on the sale of medical records, meaning only those who have a justifiable reason to view our medical histories can do so. Even more significant is that our information can’t be sold to be used for ulterior motives, like marketing medicines and targeting consumers. How this will all help our economy I have no clue. I am just hoping that whatever does get enacted protects your rights to privacy in your own medical records.

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