I told you so!

A very disturbing story from The Pirate’s Cove:

Hooray! US Mining Personal Health Data For Your Own Good
By William Teach May 16, 2014 – 3:35 pm

The Government just wants to protect the vulnerable. It’s For Your Own Good:

U.S. Mines Personal Health Data to Find the Vulnerable in Emergencies

The phone calls were part Big Brother, part benevolent parent. When a rare ice storm threatened New Orleans in January, some residents heard from a city official who had gained access to their private medical information. Kidney dialysis patients were advised to seek early treatment because clinics would be closing. Others who rely on breathing machines at home were told how to find help if the power went out.

Those warnings resulted from vast volumes of government data. For the first time, federal officials scoured Medicare health insurance claims to identify potentially vulnerable people and share their names with local public health authorities for outreach during emergencies and disaster drills.

The program is just one of a growing number of public and corporate efforts to take health information far beyond the doctor’s office, offering the promise of better care but also raising concerns about patient privacy.

Again, this is just The Government protecting you. So what if the data is private. They’re The Government! They’re here to help!

More at the link.

But this is just more evidence of what we have said : we have suggested before that the Obama Administration’s insistence and requiring certain things to be included, was to make our medical records computer searchable, and that searchability contained a lot of dangerous things.

The First Street Journal thinks that The New York Times article Mr Teach cited failed to ask a rather obvious question: if “some residents heard from a city official who had gained access to their private medical information,” just how and why did that “city official” gain access to their private medical information in the first place? More from the Times:

In some cities, text messages remind parents to get their children vaccinated. Elsewhere, emergency medical services sift records to identify — sometimes to law enforcement officials — “frequent fliers” who take repeated, costly ambulance trips. In New Orleans, a health care information exchange notifies primary care physicians when their patients are admitted to hospitals, offers insurers the ability to sift the data for “high-cost users” and permits authorized individuals to “break the glass” in emergencies — viewing records of patients who have not previously given permission and cannot speak for themselves. And a federal program allows data sharing with public health officials to monitor “mental health conditions” and other illnesses in hazardous situations, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Your Editor gains little satisfaction from being right; simply saying I told you so hardly makes up for the utter perniciousness of the enforced computerization of medical records and the ability for people to search them for things. If “a city official” can check your medical records to see if you are a kidney dialysis patient, then why can’t someone else, a prospective employer’s human resources department perhaps, check to see if an applicant smoked or had high blood pressure or was obese by his body mass index or had ever undergone drug or alcohol abuse therapy?1 And if “a federal program allows data sharing with public health officials to monitor ‘mental health conditions,'” how long will it be before such information is available to law enforcement officials as well, whenever someone wants to exercise his Second Amendment rights to purchase a firearm? Many physicians will ask patients, including child patients, if they or their families have a firearm in the home. While physicians are not required to ask, and patients are not required to answer,2 the information could become part of that computerized medical record . . . and a back door to a national firearms registry.

Doctor/patient confidentiality? You can forget all about that! Your doctor cannot be required to testify against you in any maters which relate to confidential medical matters, but they won’t need to, will they; if some “city official” can gain access, how long will it be before prosecutors can as well?

Mr Teach concluded:

In other words, these benevolent Progressives found a workaround to take the private data. For your own good. It should concern everyone that Government keeps finding ways to intrude on citizens without permission. I bet if they had run the program voluntarily, asking citizens if there was anything Government should be aware of in the case of an emergency, they would get a good response. Because there are times when Government is necessary. It should not be done simply because Government wants to “help you” and manufactures ways around privacy laws. Where does it stop?

The answer is that it never stops; there will always be a good reason that someone just needs to know something.

  1. I recognize that the law doesn’t allow human resources departments such access, but I am not naïve enough to think that a dedicated hacker couldn’t break through.
  2. Will a 9-year-old realize that if his doctor asks if dad has a gun in the house, he doesn’t have to answer?

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