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N.C. Looks For Money To Meet Federal Mandate To Secure Medical Records

Posted April 19, 2002

— North Carolina is supposed to spend money to protect medical records. The problem is that the state does not have the money to do it.

You may think your medical records are secure, but the federal government believes your private information could easily fall into the wrong hands.

North Carolina's information system manager said the move is all about privacy.

"I think we all, as citizens, want our health care information to be secure," said Karen Tomczak.

The federal government has mandated that states implement the program. Failure to do so could land a state official in jail.

However, the cost for North Carolina is steep -- $165 million in a budget year when the state does not have the money.

"I see no way at this point unless we cut education, that we cut human services and those kinds of things to try to meet this federal mandate and [those are] options we don't want to consider. We would like the federal government to reconsider somehow," said Rep. David Redwine, (D) Brunswick County, a House budget writer.

Lawmakers have until October to comply, and there criminal penalties for failure to do so.

So far, California and Indiana are the only states to comply with the health records requirement.


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