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Contact Congress ASAP and Tell Them to Vote NO on H.R. 3962!

H.R. 3962 Infringes on Freedom and Privacy

(Nov. 4, 2009)—Congress is expected to vote soon on a mandatory health-insurance bill (H.R. 3962). If this legislation is passed, nearly all Americans will lose the freedom to choose their health insurance, as well as their health privacy.  Here’s why:

  • H.R. 3962 requires nearly every American to buy “acceptable” health insurance, or face a tax penalty (2.5 percent of income) for not buying government-sanctioned health insurance.1
  • A panel (“Health Benefits Advisory Committee”) of up to 27 medical and other experts will make recommendations to determine what benefits are covered—and not covered—under everyone’s mandatory health-insurance policy (in addition to statutorily mandated benefits).  However, the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the final say in whether or not to accept those recommendations.2  In effect, one political appointee (the HHS Secretary) will have the final say in writing nearly 300 million Americans’ health-insurance policies.  This would be placing an enormous amount of decision-making authority in the hands of one political appointee.
  • H.R. 3962 requires qualified insurance companies to exchange financial and health-related data electronically, most often without patients’ consent.  That's because the legislation requires qualified insurance companies to abide by the “Administrative Simplification” provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).3 In turn, the Administrative Simplification provisions foster the creation of a national electronic medical-records database by linking and exchanging electronic health data nationwide. Section 115 of H.R. 3962 (titled “Administrative Simplification”) would “enable the real-time (or near real-time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility, on a specific date or range of dates, [and] include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card or similar mechanism…”4
  • Patient consent will NOT be required before sharing patients’ personal health data electronically for most purposes. That's because H.R. 3962 ties the requirement for electronic data sharing to the HIPAA privacy rule,5 which actually permits patients’ data to be shared—without patients’ consent—with more than 600,000 health-related organizations for purposes related to treatment, payment or health-care operations.6,7 The HIPAA privacy rule also gives the federal HHS secretary the legal right to access every citizen’s personal health information—including psychotherapy notes—without individuals’ authorization.8  

All told, under H.R. 3962 Americans would be:

  • Required to buy acceptable health insurance;
  • Forced to buy health insurance from companies that are required to exchange patients’ health information electronically; and
  • Denied the right to keep health information private between providers and patients, as the HIPAA privacy rule actually permits data sharing for many purposes—without patient consent—and gives the federal HHS secretary access to everyone’s personal health records, including psychotherapy notes.

Do you really want reform that infringes upon everyone’s freedom of choice and privacy? 

If not, please call Congress AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and tell them to vote NO on H.R. 3962.  Congress’s main number is (202) 225-3121. Or email Congress here: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Following is sample language to use:

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman XX:

I earnestly request that you vote NO on H.R. 3962 because the bill destroys both freedom and privacy.  It does so by: first requiring nearly every citizen to buy “qualified” health insurance; second requiring qualified health insurance companies to exchange everyone’s personal health information electronically; and third tying the mandatory electronic data exchanges to the HIPAA privacy rule, which actually permits data sharing for many purposes without patients' consent.

References

1 Sec. 501 "Tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage," Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962).

2 Sec. 223 "Health Benefits Advisory Committee" and Sec. 224 "Process for adoption of recommendations," Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). 

3 Sec. 237 "Application of administrative simplification," Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962).

4 Sec. 115 "Administrative Simplification," Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). 

5 Sec. 115 "Administrative Simplification," Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). 

6 45 CFR Subtitle A, Subpart E—Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information; Sec. 164.502(a)(1)(ii) “Permitted uses and disclosures.”

8 Under the federal HIPAA privacy rule, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) legally has access to every citizen’s health records, including psychotherapy notes; and covered entities (doctors, hospitals, etc.) are required to disclose personal health information to the Secretary to determine compliance with the HIPAA rule. See 45 CFR Subtitle A, Subpart E—Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information; section 164.502(a)(2)(ii) “Required disclosures” and section 164.508(a)(2)(ii) exception to “Uses and disclosures for which an authorization is required.”