Wednesday, May 4, 2016
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In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows the expression on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Goodbye to Patient Privacy?

View Point

Why a governmnt-run portal is a poor idea

By Jim Ray

“I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” bellowed Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan—and the judge promptly granted him his wish. Lieutenant Nolan was ordered out to sea, where he was transported to and from various naval vessels for the rest of his life. He would never set foot on American soil again.

So captivating was the account of “The Man Without a Country,” published in the December, 1863 issue of The Atlantic, many readers did not realize it was work of fiction. Edward Everett Hale’s short story about a soldier who failed to appreciate his freedom—and then realized, too late, what he had lost—stirred the nation.

Certain rights are about to be forfeited in America today and, much like the illusory Lieutenant Nolan, many Americans don’t realize what they are about to lose. Among the things at risk, now, is the confidentiality of your medical history. Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new initiative to collect patient information. Is the government developing an essential, life-saving tool, or is this another massive invasion of privacy?

The project, dubbed GenPort, will be an online portal to enormous collections of genomic data from patients involved in heart, lung, blood and sleep research studies. The idea, in principle, is a good one. By pooling information, researchers will be able to study the genetics of millions of patients to better find cures and treatments.

But what about privacy and your personal health records? The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known commonly by its acronym HIPAA, supposedly protects you. If you’ve been to the doctor or hospital recently, you have doubtless been asked to sign a sheaf of papers, and much of this relates to HIPAA.

One of the key features of HIPAA is that when your health information is shared for research purposes, it must be stripped of “personally identifiable information.” So, if scientists somewhere on the other side of the country are researching your genetic profile, they should not know your identity.

But the reality, in 2016 is that sophisticated software algorithms now exist to identify just about anyone even without so-called “personally identifiable information.” And that being the case, do you trust the government with this information? President Obama has long held the view that America should have a “single-payer” health system. Although he’s scaled back his comments on single-payer since becoming president, there is no question the Affordable Care Act is a step toward it.

There is little indication that single-payer insurance will enhance your health and considerable evidence to suggest it might kill you. In Great Britain, for example, the National Health Service (NHS) controls all healthcare. The April 26, 2016 issue of the U.K. Daily Mail reported that “people who have treatment here are four times more likely to die than US citizens undergoing similar operations. The most seriously ill NHS patients were seven times more likely to die than their American counterparts.” The reasons included long waiting lists and a shortage of specialists.

Now, add to that scenario the prospect of bureaucrats poring over patients’ genetic profiles, making calls on who gets treatment. Perhaps your genetic profile might suggest you have a lesser likelihood of a successful outcome, so you go to the back of the line.

If you are having a medical crisis, you want your doctor to have absolutely every relevant detail that might save your life. But that same information, in the hands of a government official, might prove fatal. And that’s why a “portal” run by the feds is a very bad idea.

“You’re probably about to lose something precious,” wrote Geoff Webb in a recent edition of Wired Magazine. “Something you can’t see. Something you can’t touch, taste, or smell and probably don’t think about regularly. And yet, when it’s gone, which I believe it will be soon, you may spend the rest of your life longing for it.

“What you’re about to lose is your privacy.”

And with that, you will lose America too. One hundred and fifty years after he was created, Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan is looming more real than ever.


Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.


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