Invasion of Medical Privacy; Personal Information Is Up for Grabs with Government Health Care

Article excerpt


Privacy rights are under threat in the House's government health care plan.

While plowing through the more than 1,000-page Democratic House bill, Declan McCullagh of CBS News uncovered provisions that would allow startling privacy intrusions. The innermost secrets of people's personal lives would be made available to thousands of government bureaucrats.

Section 431(a) requires the Internal Revenue Service to give detailed taxpayer information to the new health choices commissioner and state health programs. The helpful government just wants to be able to tell citizens when they might be eligible for benefits they somehow might have overlooked. Besides letting all those government bureaucrats know about an individual's income, number of dependents and filing status, the plan has an unlimited catchall that would require disclosure of other information as is prescribed by the health commissioner. The IRS would be commanded to provide whatever information about individual taxpayers the health choices commissioner deemed necessary.

The Social Security Administration also could obtain whatever individual income-tax information it deemed relevant to determine people's eligibility for a low-income prescription drug subsidy even if the individual had not applied for it.

Both the left and the right are raising concerns about these invasions of privacy. …