Is privacy an illusion?
For years we have been hearing about "the right to privacy" emanating from the penumbra of rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and the legal protections that flow from it. This is particularly true in the area of medical care, where the bond between a doctor and a patient is treated in roughly the same terms as that which exists between penitent and priest.
Now that Obamacare is the law of the land we have to ask if privacy still exists. Or, if it is now a fiction, it will be honored in the breach rather than in the observance as far as the federal government is concerned.
Confused? You shouldn't be—not if you've followed what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing as it prepares for Obamacare's implementation. To put it simply, HHS is making plans to get its hands on your health care records, one way or another, whether you want them to have it or not.
The department's first choice is to collect them directly. If they can't manage that, Plan B is to require the states to collect the data and take it from there. Plan C is to lean on health insurers, using a new regulatory scheme that would require private companies to crunch the data according to new federal mandates the ways the feds want it.
It's a frightening prospect, any way you look at it. The government's track record in keeping confidential information private is not exactly stellar. Writing recently in the Washington Examiner, Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp—who is helping to lead the charge against what HHS wants to do—asked, "What happens to the federal government if it loses a laptop full of patient data or business information? What recourse do individual citizens have against an inept bureaucrat who leaves the computer unlocked? Imagine a WikiLeaks-sized disclosure of every Americans' health histories. The results could be devastating—embarrassing—even Orwellian."
Huelskamp is right—and it is good that he is sounding the alarm. He does not exaggerate when he says, "With its extensive rule-making decrees, Obamacare has been an exercise in creating authority out of thin air at the expense of individuals' rights, freedoms, and liberties."
We were told that Obamacare was necessary because too many Americans were without health insurance—which is not the same thing as them being without medical care when it is needed. Rather than fix the stated problem, however, it has made things worse, even before it is fully implemented. According to some recent estimates more than 1 million Americans have lost their coverage in the period since Obamacare became law.
This is not progress. Not unless the ultimate goal is to produce a plan so confusing and so ineffectual that a Canadian-style "single payer" could only look good by comparison.
Under the current administration, it is not public works projects that are "shovel ready" so much as it might be the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Letting the federal government get its hands on everybody's health care records seems to be a necessary first step on the road to rationing and other "unintended consequences" that are all too predictable. Obamacare needs to be scrapped. We need to start all over again to develop a patient-centered, doctor-friendly system of insurance and care that everyone can live with.
- See photos of healthcare reform protests.
- Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare.
- See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren’t) in the healthcare bill.