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Privacy and Federal Scofflaws

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Privacy? What Privacy?
We’ve made no secret of our concern over the proposed national electronic records system. We agree with the Institute for Health Freedom that the proposed system will invade your privacy by allowing hundreds of thousands of parties to access your records. Here is a case in point:

According to news reports this week, North Carolina sheriffs want access to state computer records that identify people with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances, an idea that patient advocates oppose. “We can better go after those who are abusing the system,” said Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter.
As things stand now, under the federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) privacy rule, your personal health information—including electronic health records (EHRs) and genetic information—can be disclosed without your consent to many third parties such as the following:

  • Public health workers
  • Data-processing companies
  • Researchers (in some instances)
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Federal government
  • Doctors (even those not treating you)

Under the HIPAA privacy rule all of the above are legally permitted to access your personal health and genetic information without your permission. Individuals do not have the final say in whether their personally identifiable health information is shared with more than 600,000 health-related organizations for purposes related to treatment, payment, and health-care operations without individuals’ consent.
The news reports went on to say that 30% of all North Carolinians had at least one prescription for a controlled substance in the first six months of 2010. Conventional medicine seems to be turning many of us into drug addicts.
USDA Thumbs Its Nose at the Law
Last month we told you that a US district judge in California ruled that the USDA cannot wave through approval for Monsanto’s new genetically modified sugar beets without a review of what they would do to the environment. Well, it seems that the USDA just went ahead and approved planting, despite the court decision!
So this week, groups opposed to genetically modified foods announced a lawsuit against the USDA over the agency’s recent decision to allow limited plantings of altered sugar beets.
The plaintiffs, which include the Center for Food Safety, argue in their lawsuit that these plantings could still contaminate neighboring crops. The suit asks the judge to forbid the planting of any genetically modified sugar beet plants.

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