Thursday, August 20, 2009

HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD ALLOW GOVERNMENT SNOOPING INTO CHECKING AND CREDIT CARD INFO

iana Furchtgott-Roth, National Review - Buried in the 1,017 pages of the House Democrats' health-care bill is a little-noticed provision that for the first time could give the government access to the checking or credit-card information of every American. Under section 163, which is entitled "Administrative Simplification," the bill sets new "standards" for electronic transactions between individuals and their health-care providers. According to section 163, the standards will "enable the real-time (or near real-time) determination of an individual's financial responsibility at the point of service . . . "

What is envisioned is a "machine-readable health plan beneficiary card" that, in addition to information about a person's medical history, will contain checking-account or credit-card information, so as to allow electronic payments and, if a person is lucky, occasional remittances. Since under the proposed legislation everyone would be required to have health insurance, all Americans would have to provide this information.

The required collection of such data is unprecedented. At no other time has the government sought to collect this type of financial information from everyone in America. . .

The idea of wholesale collection of checking-account information by Uncle Sam raises many questions. Who would see it? How would people be protected from theft of their account numbers? Fundamentally, who would control this sensitive information?

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