THE BLOG
05/28/2010 05:03 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

How Democrats Killed Medical Privacy in Colorado

It's tough being the establishment. Sometimes you have to trash your principles for political purposes. Privacy and choice, ideals once championed by liberals and their progressive allies, have been reduced to quaint notions applicable on politically acceptable occasions now that Democrats are the ruling class.

Take health care in Colorado. Last year, State Rep John Kefalas sponsored legislation that would have laid "the groundwork" for government-controlled health care, a.k.a. single-payer, to all Coloradans by 2011. It failed even in the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

This year, Kefalas and other Democratic legislators tried a different approach. HB 1330, the All-Payer Health Care Cost Database was signed into law by Governor Ritter on May 26. The bill grants unlimited power to the Executive Director of Health Care Policy and Financing to mandate the collection of any and all health care data, to conduct audits, to give the data to third parties without seeking permission, and to impose unlimited fines for refusing to provide data to the database.

The legislation is a frightening invasion of privacy because patients and providers have no say over whether the state may have, according to the bill, "access to individual information on physical functioning, medical treatment, supposed mental stability, marital problems, family structure, sexual habits, addictions, adherence to government health recommendations, and individual financial arrangements."

Kefalas bragged about the massive privacy invasion in a press release, "You can't manage what you can't measure." In other words the state must know the intimate details of your private medical records in order to "manage" your health care for you.

Sponsors of the legislation say your information will be secure and private...wink, wink. Colorado state government has a history of losing supposedly secure data. In this era of Big Data, there is no way to guarantee privacy or security. In the words of CU Associate Law Professor Paul Ohm, who specializes in privacy issues, "data can either be useful or perfectly anonymous but never both."

Furthermore, the database will be funded by "unknown" sources with "unknown" agendas. Whoever is willing to pay to establish the database will have access to your private medical information.

In a paper released last fall, Ohm refers to "databases of ruin" where an individual's most personal information is stored. Nate Anderson, senior editor of ARS Technica, summarized Ohm's paper, "Scrubbing data just isn't enough to keep our individual 'databases of ruin' out of the hands of the police, political enemies, nosy neighbors, friends, and spies."

So where are all the privacy advocates from the Left? Where are the champions of "choice"? They are nowhere to be found.

You'd think abortion rights activists would have marched en masse to the Capitol to protest such a massive intrusion into medical privacy. If parents shouldn't know that their teenage daughter got an abortion, being required to turn their health care information over to a state-run health care database should be at least a little objectionable.

An online search turned up a grand total of two dissenting voices against such a significant government intrusion into individual rights and privacy: Amy Oliver-Cooke and Linda Gorman, both from the Independence Institute.

If I missed a single progressive voice against HB 1330, I'd love to know about it.

The problem with governing is that it sometimes makes a mockery of principles once championed. And obedient allies remain silent as politics replaces concern over those pesky principles of privacy and choice.