By Dr. Ron Paul
According to a story in Politico, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is considering creating a national surveillance system to track Americans’ health information. Supporters of this initiative claim it would enable the federal government to quickly identify areas in need of additional medical supplies and other assistance because the areas are coronavirus “hot spots.”
Of course, it is unlikely that this system would be limited to only tracking coronavirus patients. The government may eventually keep track of every hospital admission—or even all visits to doctors’ offices—in the United States. This system could, and likely would, be used to violate privacy and harass and intimidate those challenging existing government policies. Anyone who doubts this should ask themselves what former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover or former Director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS Lois Lerner would have done with access to every American’s medical history. No wonder some have described this as a healthcare Patriot Act.
Despite official denial that the White House is considering a new tracking program, the coronavirus panic may be used to justify giving the federal government access to our medical records.
Politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests have for years been trying to create a database of all Americans’ medical records that could be accessed by federal bureaucrats and government-favored special interests. The 2008 “stimulus” bill included federal funding to develop a system to store healthcare records electronically. This was a step toward creating a federally controlled database of all Americans’ healthcare records.
A major part of the plan to give government access to and control of our medical records is assigning every American a “unique patient identifier.” Fortunately, in 1998 an appropriations “rider” I drafted forbidding the use of federal funds to develop a unique patient identifier passed Congress and has been renewed ever since. However, last year the House of Representative voted to lift the prohibition. After my Campaign for Liberty and other health freedom advocates pressured Congress, the funding ban was restored. Those favoring this Orwellian scheme will no doubt use the coronavirus panic as an excuse to seek to repeal the funding ban.
The same law that sought to create the uniform patient identifier also authorized creation of misnamed federal medical privacy regulations that allow government officials and certain private interests to access medical records without patients’ consent.
Federally mandated healthcare IDs and databases will weaken healthcare. Patients must provide details regarding their personal lives and habits so their physicians can make diagnoses. How comfortable would people be sharing this information if they knew it would be stored in a federal “health tracking” database?
Billionaire Bill Gates has suggested that when a coronavirus vaccine is developed individuals should be issued digital certificates proving they received the vaccine. Similarly, coronavirus fearmonger-in-chief Dr. Anthony Fauci has floated the idea that Americans who have been vaccinated for coronavirus or have in the past contracted the virus be issued “coronavirus immunity cards.”
Implementing Gates’s or Fauci’s suggestions could lead to people being forced to receive a coronavirus vaccine or suffer legal penalties. The power to force individuals to receive medical treatment would likely be expanded to apply to other communicable diseases as well as behaviors and conditions such as smoking or obesity. Those who value liberty must do all they can to ensure authoritarians like Gates and Fauci do not make respect for our right to control our healthcare a casualty of the coronavirus panic.
Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.