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Federal Report Shines Light On Google’s EMR Lobbying Effforts

By HEALTHCARE IT NEWS

Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 10:23 am

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WASHINGTON – According to first quarter federal reports, Google participated in lobbying efforts aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records in the economic stimulus legislation.

This contradicts the Internet giant’s earlier response to Consumer Watchdog, a California-based, non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization, that their claims against Google were "100 percent false."

Consumer Watchdog reported the "rumored" lobbying in January and charged that Google was pushing for the provisions so it could sell patient medical information to its advertising clients on the new "Google Health" database. Google responded by contacting the Rose Foundation, a charitable foundation in California, about withdrawing Consumer Watchdog’s funding.

Google’s report reveals a total expenditure of $880,000 on lobbying during the period including on "online health-related initiatives, issues relating to online personal health records, including in connection with H.R. 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

According to the report, Google contracted with the Podesta Group a Washington-based government relations and public affairs firm, which independently reported receiving $150,000 to lobby for Google on "health information technology" and "online privacy."

Law firm King and Spalding LLP, also independently reported receiving $80,000 to lobby for Google on "online health-related initiatives, including health information technology provisions in H.R. 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

Consumer Watchdog executives say Google owes them an apology. They sent a letter Tuesday to Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, saying,  "There is a simple way to resolve this. Publicly release all the substance of Google’s lobbying efforts on H.R.1.  Google knows the drill: organize the information and make it universally accessible and useful."

The letter ended by saying, "You owe us and your users a clear explanation of what Google was doing in the Capitol. As it stands now, the available record only leads to the conclusion that you were misrepresenting your activities."

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