Imagine What Hackers Could Do with a National Patient ID

 

***NEWS RELEASE***

For Immediate Release
July 20, 2015

CONTACT:
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 104,Media@HamiltonStrategies.com

 

Imagine What Hackers Could Do

with a National Patient ID

 

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Says a National Patient ID System Will Put Patients’ Personal Medical Information at Risk

 

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently announced the disastrous impact of a massive data breach that affected millions of Americans, stating that 21.5 million people, both inside and outside the government, had their personal information stolen, reported CNN and ABC.

Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org), a Minnesota-based national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights, says that the hack is evidence of why an organization representing the nation’s health care IT executives is wrong to push for lawmakers to create, fund and mandate a National Patient ID program that would electronically link and share patients’ private health information over a broad spectrum.

Just a day after impact of the OPM hack was announced, its director, Katherine Archuleta, resigned once it was discovered that the hack on the agency affected five times more Americans than originally thought. It was also revealed that the breach, suspected to be by Chinese government hackers, also compromised the fingerprints of about 1.1 million, Fox News reported. In February, the Washington Post reported that a cyber security firm uncovered links between Chinese government-sponsored researchers and the hack of health insurance giant Anthem.

“This huge OPM hack into the private records of millions of Americans was a frightening commentary on how unsecure our data really is,” Brase said. “Imagine if, besides our financial information, social security numbers, family names and addresses, and fingerprints, our private medical data was stolen or fell into the wrong hands. Our medical information must be protected just as well as all of our other data—in fact, even more so.”

Under the guise of the benefits of hospitals and doctors sharing patients’ medical information in a move toward better care, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recently drafted a letter to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.), as well as Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a ranking member.

In the letter, CHIME says its “members have a unique view of the barriers to interoperability and the necessary components needed to achieve fluid exchange of information. ... Five years after passage of HITECH, there exists an opportunity to make policy decisions apart from the arbitrary deadlines of the EHR Incentives Program and pivot towards the long-term goal of building and supporting a national digital health ecosystem.”

CHIME’s reasoning for a National Patient ID, however, does nothing to protect patients, Brase said.

“A national patient ID would not improve care, efficiency and/or coordination, but instead would put patients’ private health information at risk and damage essential trust in the patient-doctor relationship,” she said. “This type of federal identification system would limit every patient’s privacy and makes each patient record easily available to the 2.2 million entities, plus government officials, who are allowed under HIPAA to see medical records without patient consent.

“Most citizens are unaware of federal plans for a national computerized medical records system,” Brase continued. “Congress specifically prohibited any consideration of or funding for creation of a National Patient ID system due to privacy concerns. We know that Americans value their privacy—in their financial information, fingerprints and other sensitive data. This certainly is the case for our private medical information, perhaps the most personal of them all, because this data shows our weaknesses, our frailties, our disabilities, our personal comments and concerns, and in the future, perhaps our complete genetic blueprint.”

Adding another layer to the argument that patient data is unsecure, Politico Pro recently reported that the “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services has not yet implemented auditors’ recommendations that it conduct privacy impact assessments on HealthCare.gov systems that store personal information,” said an official.

“Government Accountability Office information security expert Gregory Wilshusen told a House Science subcommittee at a hearing on the OPM breach that he is not aware of any efforts to act on that recommendation from a fall GAO report finding weaknesses in information security at HealthCare.gov,” according to Politico Pro. And when asked what grade he would give federal cybersecurity, Wilshusen went with a “D.”

For more information about CCHF and its “5C” Solution for Health Carevisit its web site at www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cchfreedom or its Twitter feed, @CCHFreedom.

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a patient-centered national health freedom organization based in St. Paul, Minn., exists to protect health care choices and patient privacy.​ CCHF sponsors the daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which airs on approximately 350 stations nationwide, including 200 on the American Family Radio Network and 100 on the Bott Radio Network. Listeners can learn more about the agenda behind health care initiatives and​ steps they can take to protect their health care choices, rights and privacy. 

CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, R.N., has been called one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Health Care” and one of “Minnesota’s 100 Most Influential Health Care Leaders.” A public health nurse, Brase has been interviewed by CNN, Fox News, Minnesota Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Today Show, NPR, New York Public Radio, the Associated Press, Modern Healthcare, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Washington Times, among others. She is at the forefront of informing the public of crucial health issues, such as intrusive wellness and prevention initiatives in Obamacare, patient privacy, informed consent, the dangers of “evidence-based medicine” and the implications of state and federal health care reform.

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For more information or to interview Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, or Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.

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