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National Individual Health Identifier
Without question, governments became the biggest consumers of extremely
private information about individuals when they got in the business of
health care. Just to administer health care programs, the federal and
state governments must collect the names, addresses, telephone numbers,
genders, ages, income levels, medical conditions, medical histories,
providersí names, and much more information about every single beneficiary.
The prospect of this much information centralized in one federal government
database was evidently too much for the American people when they rejected
the 1994 Clinton Health Care plan, which proposed a government-issued medical
ID card on which all Americansí private medical information would be stored.
Unfortunately, a weakened version of the government-issued medical ID
was slipped into law a few years later as part of the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This law required the
Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a National Individual Health
Identifier. The ugly specter of a national health database remains.
The National Individual Health ID could so easily be used in thousands of
pernicious ways that Congress has allotted no funds for carrying out the plan
and the Secretary of HHS has taken almost no steps to implement it. A National
Individual Health ID is the law of the land, however, and the U.S. federal
government remains a significant threat to medical privacy.
Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and
Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001 (House of Representatives) Congressional Record (June 13, 2000)
Can You Trust the Ministry of Privacy? by Solveig Singleton, Cato Daily Commentary (August 25, 1998)
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