Patient Privacy at Stake
Last week I authored a column that appeared in The Washington Examiner about a proposed rule from Secretary Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services. As I said in the column, we are never shocked by the outrageous “side effects” resulting from the rushed and unconsidered passage of ObamaCare a year and a half ago. Now we are learning that not only can you not keep your own health care as a result of this law, you cannot even keep your own patient records. Uncle Sam and Big Brother are finding a way to join you and your doctor in your annual check-up.
This proposed rule – if implemented – would give HHS the authority to compel health insurance companies to submit information about every single patient claim. A national database of information would be compiled, inclusive of sensitive information about services each patient receives. As the column explains,
“The HHS has proposed the federal government pursue one of three paths to obtain this sensitive information: A ‘centralized approach’ wherein insurers’ data go directly to Washington; an ‘intermediate state-level approach’ in which insurers give the information to the 50 states; or a ‘distributed approach’ in which health insurance companies crunch the numbers according to federal bureaucrat edict.”
Regardless of which option is chosen, a national database, a state-level database, or a risk adjustment database will be available for the eyes and minds of federal bureaucrats, jeopardizing your personal privacy. The federal government will have access to your records (very likely with personally identifiable information out of necessity) – without your consent. The doctor-patient relationship is one of the most – and one of the few remaining – sacred bonds of trust that exists; now, there is no way you can avoid giving Uncle Sam a peep into your medical records.
Despite promises from HHS to protect you, the proposed rule acknowledges potential privacy concerns. Words are one thing. History is another. We all know that the federal government has a long track record of losing laptops and falling victim to data breaches. And, let’s not kid ourselves, it is not just the unintentional acts that leave us concerned: an entire database of patient information would be a hot-ticket item. The trillion-dollar health industry would love to get its hands on this one-stop-shop of market information. An enterprising bureaucrat, political appointee, or even White House individuals with ulterior motives or an axe to grind could easily use the information to his or her economic or political advantage – at the expense of your privacy. Imagine J. Edgar Hoover in a white lab coat.
At http://huelskamp.house.gov/hhs you can read the editorial in full, follow this debate, and find instructions on how to submit your comments to HHS. Please take the time to tell Secretary Sebelius: Hands Off My Private Medical Records!