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Supreme Court Hears Landmark Challenge to Big Brother Medical Databases, Reports the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 02, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At least 16 states are building intrusive Big Brother medical databases about patients and physicians, and the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning, reports the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. AAPS filed an amicus brief in this case urging the Court to protect patient privacy from the prying eyes of many States.

“States have no business gathering personal medical information about patients without their voluntary consent,” states Jane M. Orient, M.D., AAPS executive director. “Insurance companies should not share patient medical information with the States unless the patients have specifically opted in to waiving their privacy.”

The Second Circuit federal appellate court had properly struck down Vermont’s demand for “massive amounts of claims information” about patients from insurance companies, notes AAPS. The Vermont law created “significant (and obvious) privacy risks” to patients’ highly personal information, the Second Circuit ruled.

The information demanded by States of insurance companies is supposedly “de-identified,” but researchers at Harvard were able to re-identify 84%-97% of the individuals in a DNA database by cross-referencing with public voter registrations lists. Professor Latanya Sweeney even showed how private medical information about then-Governor William Weld of Massachusetts could be publicly disclosed through this process, AAPS observes.

The appellate court had correctly ruled, in the opinion of AAPS, after considering the important privacy issue, that the Vermont regulatory scheme is preempted by ERISA, which is the federal law governing many health plans. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court took this case at the request of the State of Vermont, which seeks reversal of the Second Circuit decision.

“The appellate decision below protects medical record privacy against intrusion by a Vermont regulatory scheme that requires production to the State of massive amounts of data related to individual care of patients,” wrote AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly in the AAPS amicus brief, which Vermonters for Health Care Freedom joined.

“President Obama does not release his medical records, and neither did President Bill Clinton,” Andrew Schlafly observes. “Why should everyday Americans be subjected to this privacy invasion?”

Several States asserted that these database enabled them to discover in 2011 that hysterectomies were being overused, “but the same point about unnecessary hysterectomies was fully reported by CNN” as early as 2007, Schlafly writes.

A decision is expected from the Court by June.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943. Its motto is omnia pro aegroto, everything for the patient.

Contact: Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.com, or Andrew Schlafly, (908) 719-8608, aschlafly@aol.com.

Source:Association of American Physicians and Surgeons