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Block Government Patient I.D.s, Organizations Ask Senate

December 18, 2019

Government should not fund a patient identification center, say 22 organizations.

Twenty-two organizations signed a letter by the Citizens Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) urging U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to block funding for a national patient identification system known as the Unique Patient Identifier (UPI).

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives removed a prohibition on funding put into place in 1997 by former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. A UPI is a number the federal government would assign patients so their medical information could be tracked in a national medical records system.

Such a system would undermine patient privacy, says CCHF President Twila Brase.

“In an attempt to unify and control patient data, Congress threatens to put Americans and our national security at risk to hackers and others wishing to steal and leverage private medical and financial details,” Brase said in a statement.

The letter cites the Google-Ascension data-sharing agreement (see page 16), which it calls “troubling” because it did not require obtaining explicit individual consent from patients. The letter also says a UPI is another step toward creating a national health care system.

“Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we are asking you to use your considerable power to stop the National Patient ID,” the letter states.

In September, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 2538, which would deauthorize the UPI.

“As a physician, I know firsthand how the doctor-patient relationship relies on trust and privacy, which will be thrown into jeopardy by the National Patient ID,” Paul stated in a press release. “Considering how unfortunately familiar our world has become with devasting security breaches and the dangers of the growing surveillance state, it is simply unacceptable for government to centralize some of Americans’ most personal information.”

 

—Staff Reports