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04 Dec 2018

The My Health Record opt-out period has been extended until January 31, 2019.

The Government had to back down and delay the cut-off date for people wanting to delete their digital health records in the new system.

The Senate forced the Government into its embarrassing position by voting in mid-November – just before the opt-out was supposed to end – to extend the period.

Despite this, Health Minister Greg Hunt described the vote as win for the Government because Labor had tried to extend the opt-out period by 12 months.

“Labor’s plan to delay and derail the rollout of the My Health Record was blocked today,” Mr Hunt said after the Senate vote.

“We thank the crossbench for not delaying this important policy change as Labor tried so desperately to do.”

But Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said the Government was “dragged kicking and screaming” into accepting the extension.

“For months, Labor has been calling for an extension in order to get this important reform right. For months, the Liberals have been insisting there was no need for an extension,” Ms King said.

“But in the Senate on Wednesday the Government quietly capitulated and accepted a two-and-a-half month extension.

“It’s extraordinary that Labor had to force the Government’s hand by introducing legislation to make this happen.

“Minister Hunt could have implemented an extension with the stroke of a pen weeks ago.”

More than one million Australians have already chosen to opt out of My Health Record system. The extension gives another 17 million Australians the opportunity to do the same.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said the time had come now to get on with the process of implementing the online system, which he described as an important and valuable tool in the delivery and communication of health records.

“At the end of the day, it's called My Health Record because patients will be able to control and ensure who can or can’t see,” Dr Bartone said.

“Now, if a patient doesn’t feel comfortable with the security or privacy provisions that have been enhanced significantly… they can opt-out.

“Now there’ll be a degree of people that will fall into that category, but what we’ve been missing now… we don't have the critical mass of records created with the critical information and data.

“We still don’t have most hospital data on that My Health Record for the ones that have been created. We're only now getting the ability to have the pathology and diagnostic imaging results communicated. And the list goes on.”

CHRIS JOHNSON 


Published: 04 Dec 2018