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News Link • Privacy Rights

The Road to Serfdom is Paved with Good Intentions

• Marilyn M. Singleton, M.D., J.D.
What do TSA groping, NSA data-mining, and mercury-laced fluorescent light bulbs have to do with keeping your doctor? They are the products of seductively entitled but flawed laws. As Daniel Webster said, “good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority.”

The Transportation Security Administration and the National Security Agency restrain our liberty under the auspices of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (PATRIOT Act). The Energy Independence and Security Act is phasing out incandescent bulbs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA/ “ObamaCare”) sounds as though our best interests were at the heart of the legislation. But so far, the 400,000-word law that nobody read has spawned some 12 million words in regulations. Now these regulations that even fewer people read are coming between you and that doctor you were promised you could keep.

The modern-day mission creep began with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). To “safeguard the privacy of protected health information,” HIPAA’s Administrative Simplification Standard mandated the use of the National Provider Identifier (NPI) for “covered entities,” i.e., those who electronically transmit health information.

The NPI extended its reach to “non-covered” physicians who neither sent nor intended to send claims for services they furnished to private insurers or government programs. Without an NPI on the paperwork to refer patients for diagnostic testing, a claim could be denied. Obtaining an NPI was a small concession to Big Brother for physicians who were not enrolled in the Medicare program. After all, even if their patients chose to pay their personal doctor out of pocket, they had paid their Medicare premiums and deserved the benefit of that insurance for other services and supplies.

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