Obamacare will put patients’ records at risk 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t kidding a few years ago when she said Congress had to pass Obamacare so the rest of the country could discover what it contained. Ever since then, a steady stream of problems has emerged as people pored through the law’s 2,700 pages of legalese. Just last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., found a new shocker that ought to be especially worrisome to anybody who cares about protecting the privacy of their medical records.

As part of its implementation of Obamacare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a new federal regulation to require private health insurance companies to give the government all the health records of every person they insure. The rule is shrouded in the usual bureaucratese, but, as Huelskamp pointed out, “abstract terms are used to distract from the real objectives of this idea: no matter which ‘option’ is chosen, government bureaucrats would have access to the health records of every American — including you.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claims the government must have the records in order to evaluate the performance of health insurers. Aside from the absurdity of having federal health bureaucrats rating highly specialized job performance, the proposal raises a gigantic red flag: Federal and state governments have proven repeatedly in recent years that they are all but incapable of fully protecting  sensitive records of individuals.

Remember this headline, “Personal info of 26.5 million veterans lost”? It happened in 2006 when a federal data analyst took a computer disc home containing the Social Security numbers of the veterans. It was lost when the bureaucrat’s home was burglarized. Or how about the incident in 2007 when a disc containing the Medicaid records for 2.9 million Georgians disappeared? In 2009, it was Medicaid claims data for 68,000 Californians. Last year, the Medicaid records of more than 280,000 Pennsylvanians were compromised when a couple of flash drives went missing.

No matter how strenuously and often Sebelius promises that things will be different when the Washington bureaucracy gets its hands on your health records, it’s impossible to think there won’t be similar episodes in the future. The difference will be the magnitude of people affected and the inability of the victims to do anything about it. As Huelskamp observed, “what happens to the federal government if it loses a laptop full of patient data or business information? What recourse do individual citizens have against an inept bureaucrat who leaves the computer unlocked? Imagine a WikiLeaks-size disclosure of every American’s health histories. The results could be devastating, embarrassing — even Orwellian.”

Huelskamp wants Congress to withdraw funding for the proposed regulation. That certainly should be done as soon as possible.

Pin It

More by Examiner Editorial

Latest in Nation

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation