The 140: Nurses‘ #ARRA-based federal case against HHS dismissed again…#meaningfuluse didn’t prove her case.
The hash: #dismissed
On June 25, 2009, Plaintiffs Beatrice M. Heghmann and Robert A. Heghmann filed a lawsuit against Defendant Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, Department of Health and Human services alleging constitutional violations in connection with the health care provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Stimulus Act”), (2009). Ms. Heghmann’s husband served as her attorney. Specifically, Ms. Heghman alleged that provisions of ARRA violation provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
The complaint alleged that the electronic health record system being developed utilizing federal dollars would undermine patient privacy. The aspirational goal set forth in ARRA that every person in America possess an electronic health record by 2014 also concerned Plaintiff because she believed there was insufficient assurance that patient could maintain control over who could access their health information. She alleged that she and other could potentially suffer harm if their protected health information was inappropriately disclosed.
The Court granted HHS’s Motion to Dismiss on May 13, 2010, on the grounds that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this lawsuit. Judgment was entered for the Defendant on May 24, 2010. On June 2, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On March 11, 2011, and after appellate briefing had begun, Plaintiffs stipulated to dismissal of their appeal. On May 4, 2011 , Plaintiffs filed a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, asking the Court to vacate its order of dismissal. Specifically, Plaintiffs argue that the Final Rule promulgated on July 2 8, 2010 by the Department of Health and Human Services (“Final Rule”) under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH Act”), Title XIII of Division A and Title IV of Division B of the Stimulus Act, refutes the Court’s previous conclusions that (1) the policies and incentives authorized by the HITECH Act are voluntary, and (2) Plaintiffs failed to establish that they would suffer a direct injury-in fact sufficient to confer standing. The rule pointed to by Plaintiff was the long awaited rule defining “meaningful use” of electronic health records. This federal rule sets specific objectives that eligible professionals and hospitals must achieve to qualify for federal incentive payments authorized in ARRA. Plaintiffs’ motion was denied by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 3, 2012.
This case highlights the concern many patients have about the privacy of their most personal information in the world of HITECH. They wonder how or if they can opt out of electronic sharing of their health information. Practitioners may wonder how they would deliver care to a patient who did not want their information exchanged in electronic form
For now, this particular case appers to have reached a conclusion.
S.D.N.Y.,2012. Heghmann v. Sebelius Slip Copy,(S.D.N.Y.)
1:09cv05880 (Docket) (Jun. 25, 2009)