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    Opinion Column at Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Americans say “NO” to medical database

    At his blog for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bob Barr has written about privacy and medical databases. Barr is a former congressman and presidential candidate (for the Libertarian Party), and currently heads consulting firm Liberty Strategies. He also has been the 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy at the American Conservative Union. In his column, Barr discusses the national health-care information database that is part of President Obama’s health-care reform proposal. Barr cites to a recent survey (pdf) by the Ponemon Institute.

    Before accelerating the move in this direction, the president needs to do himself what he admonishes the country and the Republicans in the Congress to do – Listen. If Obama did stop and listen to the views of American citizens regarding a massive, national healthcare information database, he would not receive a meek reply. He would instead hear a loud and clear, “NO.”

    A recent survey conducted by the respected and nonpartisan Ponemon Institute questioned some 850 Americans from diverse backgrounds and views and from 45 different states. The just-released study found that a whopping 75 percent of Americans do not support a database of private health information in the hands of the federal government. The vast majority of Americans – 85% according to the Ponemon survey – are not even aware that such a move is in the works; that such a proposal was in fact snuck into the health care legislation passed recently by both the House and the Senate. […]

    For a peek at what could be expected to happen with thousands of federal bureaucrats compiling, maintaining, sharing, and otherwise manipulating health records of the most private nature imaginable on every citizen, simply consider what is occurring far too frequently even now, with the rapidly expanding number of electronic health information databases.

    In November 2009, Health Net lost 1.5 million patient records but waited six months to disclose the incident. Not one patient, or a single law enforcement agency or government entity, was notified of the loss for six months. The disk that was lost not only contained personal information about nearly two million patients, but also private information on at least 5,000 physicians. Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal has vowed to conduct an investigation into the Health Net debacle – something possible when dealing with a private company, but virtually impossible to pursue against the federal government.

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