Health care reform bill privacy invasion

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The health care reform bill violates patients’ privacy. At last people are talking about this, but only one pending lawsuit mentions it.

The latest proposal

Kathleeen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has proposed a new rule. Under it, all insurers must put all their clients’ medical records on-line, and HHS will manage them. Technically, the rule lays out three different options for the vast medical database:

  1. One centralized federal database,
  2. Fifty databases, one for each State, or
  3. Records staying in insurers’ hands, with insurers taking orders from the government.

Any way they do it, this will put patient medical records in government hands. Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS-1) objected strongly in The Washington Examiner four days ago. His objections are more practical than fundamental:

  1. HHS has lost confidential information before this.
  2. The government now asks too much about private business practices.

(See also Michael Tennant’s essay at The New American.)

But two New Jersey activists noted a third reason a year ago: this is an unreasonable, and unwarranted, search and seizure. They noted this in their fifteen-count lawsuit against the health care reform bill.

What does the health care reform bill say?

Nick Purpura talks about his lawsuit against the health care reform bill.

Nicholas E. Purpura. Photo: self.

Nick Purpura and Donald R. Laster Jr noticed a key part of the health care reform bill (HR 3590). It is Section 1128J: Medicare and Medicaid Program Integrity Provisions (pp. 1687-1692ff). This section creates an “Integrated Data Repository” to include “claims and payment data” from:

  1. Existing Medicare and Medicaid programs.
  2. The Veterans’ Affairs hospital and other systems.
  3. The Social Security program.
  4. The Indian and Contract Health Services program.

The Inspector General’s office will have access to any medical record that he deems necessary to investigate.

Notwithstanding and in addition to any other provision of law, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services may, for purposes of protecting the integrity of the programs under titles XVIII and XIX, obtain information from any individual (including a beneficiary provided all applicable privacy protections are followed) or entity that—

(A) is a provider of medical or other items or services, supplier, grant recipient, contractor, or subcontractor; or

(B) directly or indirectly provides, orders, manufactures, distributes, arranges for, prescribes, supplies, or receives medical or other items or services payable by any Federal health care program (as defined in section 1128B(f)) regardless of how the item or service is paid for, or to whom such payment is made.

(Source: NJ plaintiffs warn of warrantless search and seizure of medical records – Newark Essex County Conservative | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/essex-county-conservative-in-newark/nj-plaintiffs-warn-of-warrantless-search-and-seizure-of-medical-records#ixzz1ZC600n00)

Kathleeen Sebelius’ new rule now makes real what was only hypothetical until now. The title of the new rule refers to the health care reform bill by name. This is clearly part of the plan that Purpura and Laster noticed. They noticed it because they did what Congress would not: they read the bill.

How might this affect Purpura and Laster’s lawsuit?

Your editor spoke to both men today. Purpura, with a hearty laugh, said, “I could not ask for a better gift than this.” Purpura said that the proposed rule directly violates the Constitution and the current HIPPA Privacy Rule. In fact, Purpura said that by proposing this rule, Sebelius now “open[s] the door for further litigation.”

Laster agreed, and quickly pointed out that theirs is the only pending lawsuit that even mentions this obvious violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The case of Purpura v. Sebelius is now before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. A lower court dismissed the case by saying that Purpura and Laster had no standing. But the proposed rule weakens that argument, by subjecting all medical records to immediate search and seizure.

In related news, Purpura said that the Obama administration walked into a trap yesterday. The case of Florida ex rel. Bondi et al. v. HHS et al. will go directly to the Supreme Court, not to an en banc rehearing before the Eleventh Circuit. The split in the circuits between the Eleventh and Sixth Circuits almost forces the Supreme Court to take the Florida case. Purpura would not speculate on why the administration wanted an immediate Supreme Court hearing.

Featured image: the Constitution of the United States. Photo: National Archives

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

8 Responses to Health care reform bill privacy invasion

  1. Frances Black says:

    It won’t affect the suit at all, at least in the Third Circuit.

    They affirmed the lower court’s decision today and assessed costs to the Appellants.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/66835848/PURPURA-v-SEBELIUS-THIRD-CIRCUIT-OPINION-Transport-Room

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/66836160/PURPURA-v-SEBELIUS-THIRD-CIRCUIT-JUDGMENT-Transport-Room

  2. Kevin J Lankford says:

    This whole discussion is so absurd. Government has never
    had any business being involved in health care, other than
    perhaps for war veterans. Otherwise the medical profession
    originated as a private enterprise and should remain so.

    It was only through the prodding and bribing by the
    insurance industries lobbyist that suddenly there existed
    an endless slush fund to be extorted, and the greedier
    they got the more the sick and infirm would have to pay.

    Government has been watching these dollar signs grow for
    a long time, and waiting for the right time, when people
    become so susceptible and dull of mind they will trust
    and believe in anything.

    The fraud in our whitehouse is clear proof of timing.

  3. Jane Doe2 says:

    Why doesn’t this blog mention the section on unconstitutional, evasive RFID MICROCHIP MANDATE? “To be implemented within three years of HC Bill’s signing”? Everybody needs to know about this. As far as I can tell, there is NO “opt out” of microchip implants. So I guess that means millions will be WITHOUT HC, because if they’re like me- there’s no freaking way in H#LL that I will be implanted!

  4. Jane Doe2 says:

    “All insurers must put all their clients’ medical records on-line, and HHS will manage them.” Hmmmmm… perhaps THIS is how they’re planning the culling/ weeding out for the death panels! How much easier THAT would be to just have everyone’s medical records online so that new branches of big brother can pop up and go through the records! The elderly person with the need for a heart transplant? DENIED! Mentally retarded or physically handicapped? DENIED! Alcoholic needing a new LIVER? DENIED! Get the picture? And to think that the liberals who WANTED this “free” healthcare bill to pass argued there were no “death” panels!! LOL!

  5. GeorgetownJD says:

    You wrote:

    “The Inspector General’s office will have access to any medical record that he deems necessary to investigate.” Quoting the language from the Act:

    “Notwithstanding and in addition to any other provision of law, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services may, for purposes of protecting the integrity of the programs under titles XVIII and XIX … ”

    Since you are so exercised about the provision (as is Nick Purpura) are we correct to assume that you took it upon yourself to submit comments during the comment period on the interim final regulation on the integrated data repository? That was last year, you know.

    Yeah, didn’t think so. If you had any ability to comprehend, you would understand that what this provision requires is for providers, physicians, and other suppliers participating in the Medicare program to provide documentation to the integrated data repository to verify their referrals to durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS), home health services — areas of high risk of waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid claims.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You’re making a distinction without a difference. Furthermore, Kathleen Sebelius has just invalidated every excuse you make above with her demand that people put their medical records on-line and let her manage them.

      Public comment? Are you kidding? All of us commented, loud and clear, about this bill during what passed for debate on it. And it didn’t make a particle of difference.

      Unconstitutional is unconstitutional.

  6. Frances Black says:

    Terry: You wrote “Kathleen Sebelius has just invalidated every excuse you make above with her demand that people put their medical records on-line and let her manage them.”

    I continue to reading where people state Kathleen has said the above, but I have found absolutely no comment from her to that effect. Rather that the online records she refers to are to track providers and suppliers to cut waste by verifying they actually ordered what Medicare and Medicaid are paying for.

    Can you please provide a quote and/or link to your source?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You have found the same source. The on-line records have patients’ names on them, with patient-identifiable information. That demonstrably threatens the patients’ privacy. Therein lies the harm: unreasonable and unwarranted search and seizure of the private papers of individual persons. That is out-of-bounds in the Constitution, as per the Fourth Amendment.

      Someone needs to teach Kathleen Sebelius the principles of individual freedom that the Constitution represents. Because she is clearly ignorant of those principles, and is running roughshod over them.

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