14 November 2018

Senate votes for MHR opt-out delay

MyHealthRecord Technology TheHill

The Senate has voted to extend the opt-out deadline for the My Health Record until January 31, after a Labor motion to force a one-year extension was narrowly defeated in the upper house.

The Labor motion to push for a legislative amendment in the MHR legislation came after the government ignored the Senate’s vote on Monday calling for a delay in the deadline, which falls due tomorrow.

The Labor motion was defeated 32-30, but a subsequent motion for an extension until the end of January, put up by One Nation, was successful.

Before the vote, Labor’s health spokesperson Catherine King said her party was seeking crossbench support to amend the legislation to extend the opt-out period for 12 months, as recommended by a recent Senate inquiry.

“A 12-month extension will give the Government time to commission and implement a Privacy Commissioner review to address outstanding concerns about system settings,” she said in a statement.

“If they don’t do that, a Shorten Labor Government will.”

A 12-month extension would also give the government time to reach every Australian with a new public information campaign, so that people could make a fully informed choice about whether they wanted to opt out of the scheme.

Ms King also revealed today that she had not opted out herself from the scheme, which was originally developed under Labor as an opt-in model known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

“I’ve chosen to keep a My Health Record and I encourage people to do so, but to actively understand what it is and to make sure that your privacy settings are the ones that you want to do,” she said.

“I’ve gone in and changed my privacy settings, and to be honest, it is quite difficult and does take a bit of time to do.”

She said the electronic health record promised “huge benefits” to Australians who participated.

“But the Liberals have jeopardised these benefits by shifting from Labor’s original opt-in system to an opt-out system without making the necessary legislative fixes – and without explaining this fundamental change to the Australian people.”

Outstanding concerns included privacy settings for minors aged 14-17, the automatic uploading of two years of Medicare data, and default settings that allowed access to a patient’s record by all their healthcare providers.

“Again, we think that the Privacy Commissioner needs to have a look at the settings overall. It’s better to take the time to get the reform right than it is to rush it through, just because the government is being stubborn.”

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6 Comments on "Senate votes for MHR opt-out delay"

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5 months 22 days ago

how’s about an update on the current number of australians who have opted out ? the feds went very quiet after the number approached a million in mid september, and there have been 2 extensions since then, largely precipitated by the crush to exit as the “final chance”(s)” rolled around

Grant Holloway
5 months 21 days ago

Hi Ash,

The latest data we have from the Dept of Health is nearly 1 million Australians have opted out so far. About 25% of folks have got a MHR, most of whom were assigned one in the test areas of Nth Qld and the Blue Mountains.

6 months 4 days ago

A far safer, smarter and cheaper option than MHR, is to have a federated system e.g. adding a smart chip to the current Medicare card that stores the patients history (backed up and updated by the GP each visit, also accessible to others health care providers who have card readers) …why not?..it works in France. Until patients are given more autonomy over their data, it should be an opt-in system. 52,000 people have signed a petition to Minister Hunt to make MHR opt-in, lets help them build momentum. Lets send the Minister a message….encourage your patients to sign at…. https://www.change.org/p/greg-hunt-mp-make-my-health-record-opt-in

6 months 4 days ago
MHR is an inherently risky scheme. GPs have a responsibility to protect their patients and their privacy, but this is near nye impossible with corporate greed, the centralized “honey pot” data base of MHR and informants already on the inside……best to advise patients to opt out…….. The CEO of MHR, Tim Kelsey, previously headed Care.data in the UK, with uncanny similarities to MHR. Care.data was a spectacular failure after it was discovered drug and insurance companies were able to buy information on patients’ mental health conditions, diseases and smoking habits. Now, we are told the chairman of the ADHD, Jim… Read more »
Dr Ian Colclough
6 months 5 days ago
Every citizen with a Medicare Card will be given a My Health Record unless they take action to opt-out. The ADHA’s communication campaign informing every citizen they will be given a MHR has been poorly executed. Every Medicare Card holder should have been written to advising them of their options. That would have been the most reliable way of ensuring all citizens were fully informed. Despite many experts and media coverage urging the ADHA to do so the ADHA refused. The cost was not prohibitive. Whatever the ADHA’s reasons for not doing so it was a naïve and short-sighted decision… Read more »
Dr Ian Colclough
6 months 6 days ago
The biggest mistake the Government made (and there have been many) was to force the system upon every citizen by shifting from Opt-In to Opt-Out. Sadly, the politicians do not seem to comprehend the depth and extent of the underlying deficiencies and shortcomings of the system; particularly in architecture and functionality. Kathryn King is believer and she speaks eloquently and with conviction on those aspects of the system of which she has some knowledge; but one cannot expect her to be an expert, the issues at hand are far far too complex comprising many wicked problems yet to be solved.… Read more »