Archive for the ‘healthcare’ Category

BTC – RFID or radio frequency ID, a widget identity technology used in retail sales, has had it’s day in the sun due to a misanthropic association with surveillance.  The fact is RFID is an evolving technology and tool serving a multitude of purposes.   RFID, like scorpions or rattlesnakes, left to their own devices are harmless.  However, when applied to intimate spaces the prospects for damage to privacy increase exponentially.


Contracts for modern health records management, data storage and health card utility are constantly negotiating what technologies are most effective at costs to perform for patients.  Avnet , and RFID proponent will be speaking to hospital administrators at the Medical Design and Manufacturing East Conference about RFID as an option for patient health cards, Monday June 7th.


Chief concern with new licenses and identity cards have been fraud and “tamper proof” cards.  Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant border cards and legalized immigrants receiving Green cards might have to put up with a laser optical RFID strip.  If we want to find out whether or not these RFID strips broadcast the information the same way RFIDs have in the past within it’s “optical security media” might require another MythBuster’s visit.

World of Warcraft’s social networking UI “Real ID” impacts gamer privacy

Virtual privacy is being challenged and impacted by World of Warcraft’s Real ID.  One of Warcraft’s social networking strategies was to get Facebook’s technology integrated with their systems.

“If you aren’t familiar with it, Real ID is the new feature for the latest iteration of where you can friend people you know and communicate with them no matter what Blizzard game they are playing (although, for now, this will only pertain to WoW and StarCraft II, eventually Diablo III). In SC2, the only way you can add someone as a friend is to have their email address. Furthermore, this is their email address. And if they accept, it shows their real-life name.”

As I type this, the US House and Senate have both passed health care reform bills. While not an expert on the health care debate, I think there are good and bad parts in both versions, but I am disappointed with the outcome so far. Decisions seem to be made to favor the corporatism at the root of the problem rather than let consumers shop for insurance across state lines or import drugs at a lower cost, eg. I also fear a backdoor National ID lurking in the shadows.

One of the most troubling aspects of the bills is the individual mandate. Instead of merely reforming the system to make it easier to buy health insurance or even extend the government health care coverage to more people, Congress seems intent to initiate a National ID under the guise of health care reform.

Ad hoc broad left-right-libertarian coalitions have been successfully fighting a federal National ID for a while. I testified to the Senate against it when Bush was president, wrote commentaries, spoke against it at demonstrations at the Capitol, and sent letters to President Bush.

Later, I was part of similar coalitions against the “REAL ID” proposals. A broad group of us wrote to the Senate against the idea. Just when we thought we had finally killed it, the National ID is rising from the ashes like an ugly phoenix.

Many of us have been in this fight for a long time against both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

Now we need to ask our policy makers: How are they going to enforce a universal individual mandate without a National ID equivalent? Does health care reform need to mean creating an unconstitutional and unwarranted dossier on every American?

Michael Ostrolenk of the Liberty Coalition organized a group letter against an insurance mandate. The letter explained,

The “individual mandate” is a section of the bill that requires every single American to buy health insurance–whether or not they want it or feel they can afford it–or break the law and face penalties and fines. Consequently, the bill does not actually “cover” 30 million more Americans–instead it makes them criminals if they do not buy insurance from private companies. We hope you agree that it is unconscionable to force people to buy a product from a private insurer. This would effectively be a tax–and a huge one–paid directly to a private industry.

Mr. Ostrolenk explained to me, “to create and implement a clearly unconstitutional medical insurance mandate, the federal government will need to issue all Americans a medical identification number to ensure compliance with the law which would clearly be a national id system. It’s all about more tracking and control of a free people.”

The only way to enforce such a mandate is to implement a medical National ID. Massachusetts residents already have to file a medical form with their taxes to show compliance. Under the current Congressional proposals, such a scheme would constitute the worst aspects of a corporatist system using large corporate political donors to help monitor our personal medical information in cahoots with the Feds.

Follow J. Bradley Jansen on Twitter:

c/o Lori Price of Citizens of Legitimate Government

“You start with health-care workers but then expand that umbrella to make it mandatory for everybody,” said Lori Price of Citizens for Legitimate Government, a Bristol, Conn.-based group that opposes government expansion. “It’s all part of an encroachment on our liberties.”

NY health workers vaccination (VIDEO) – The trend toward mandatory H1N1 vaccinations for U.S. healthcare workers is meeting resistance from unions and anti-government groups, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are being ordered to become vaccinated as the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic spreads this fall.

The trend is fueling rumors that the H1N1 vaccine may become mandatory for everyone, said Lori Price of Citizens for Legitimate Government, a Connecticut-based group that opposes government expans

“It’s all part of an encroachment on our liberties,” Price told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Saturday.

Hospital Corp. of America, with clinics and hospitals in 20 states, is requiring its 120,000 employees to be vaccinated and the state of New York is requiring all healthcare workers to get both seasonal and H1N1 flu shots.

Mandatory vaccination diverts attention from more effective infection-control methods, such as state-of-the-art masks, said Bill Borwegen, a occupational health and safety director of the Service Employees International Union. (c) UPI

National ID bashing with Cato’s, Jim Harper

Issue #104
June 14, 2007

by Jim Harper

Immigration reform is now in limbo, perhaps to return to the Senate floor for a vote, perhaps not. The debate so far — over ‘amnesty,’ border control, and guest workers—has assumed that “workplace enforcement” is a good thing. But verifying workers’ employment eligibility, as called for in the Senate immigration bill, is not such a good idea. It would revive the failing national ID plan in the REAL ID Act, create a mission-creepy surveillance system, and subject every American worker to a bureaucratic gauntlet akin to the Department of Homeland Security’s embarrassing “no-fly” list.

The overall purpose of immigration law reform is salutary. Aligning immigration law with the nation’s strong economic demand for new workers would foster lawful behavior among migrant workers, immigrants, and employers. But by establishing an “electronic employment verification system” tied to the infamous REAL ID card, the immigration bill in the Senate would promote surveillance and tracking of every American, native-born and immigrant alike.

Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 introduced the I-9 form and criminalized hiring illegal immigrants, many have come to accept that Americans’ ability to work should depend on being eligible under federal law and doing the paperwork to prove it. Employment eligibility verification has not reduced illegal immigration, though, so immigration reform is back on Congress’s agenda.

When a policy is failing, Congress has a choice: scrap it, or strengthen it. The option that increases federal spending and federal control is almost always the one that carries the day in the federal city. Despite its failure, the march to strengthen workplace enforcement continues.

The groundwork for the current push was laid in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. It required the Immigration and Naturalization Service to commence electronic verification of employees’ work eligibility, a program called “Basic Pilot.” In Basic Pilot, employers enter the information supplied on workers I-9 forms into a government website. It is compared with information held by the Social Security Administration and DHS to determine whether the employee is work-eligible.

When the system cannot confirm a worker’s eligibility, it issues the employer a “tentative nonconfirmation.” The employer must notify the affected worker, and the worker has the right to contest his or her tentative nonconfirmation within eight working days by contacting SSA or the Customs and Immigration Service. When a worker does not contest his or her tentative nonconfirmation quickly enough, the Basic Pilot program issues a final nonconfirmation and the employer is required to either immediately terminate the worker or notify DHS of its continued employment of the worker.

Title III of the Senate immigration bill would expand this program to all employers and workers within three years. This is much more easily said than done. It is unlikely to have the effects its proponents want. And it would be costly in both dollars and privacy.

Most people are familiar with the agonizing lines, the random screenings, and the Kafkaesque “suspect” treatment some get at airports. Title III would bring this state of affairs to the employment process. Last December, the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General estimated that the SSA’s “Numident” file — the data against which Basic Pilot checks worker information — has an error rate of 4.1%. All of the cases it analyzed resulted in Basic Pilot providing incorrect results. At this rate, one in every 25 new hires would receive a tentative nonconfirmation. That would leave millions of American workers to engage with government bureaucracy seeking permission to hold a job — most likely during hours they are supposed to be at work.

The dollar costs of a nationwide electronic verification system would be high. In December 2005, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the costs of the electronic employment verification system in H.R. 4437, an immigration reform bill in the 109th Congress. CBO estimated $100 million in short-run costs for upgrading software, hardware, databases, and other technology. To handle queries about tentative nonconfirmations, DHS and SSA would have had to spend about $100 million per year on new personnel. This is to say nothing of the costs to employers and workers, especially those denied permission to work. These costs would fall on U.S. taxpayers — not illegal immigrants.

Electronic verification would have far greater privacy consequences than the current system — consequences that would also fall on American citizens. Unlike paper records, when an employer enters I-9 information into a web form and sends it to the SSA and DHS, that information becomes very easy for those entities to access, copy, or use. It is combined with “meta-data” — information about when the information was collected, from whom, and so on. The process gives the government access to a wealth of data about every American’s working situation. It can easily be correlated with tax records at the IRS, education loan records in the Department of Education, health records at the Department of Health and Human Services, and so on. Title III specifically requires the IRS to share taxpayer data with DHS. Electronic employment eligibility verification will unravel the privacy of law-abiding American citizens.

Disclosure to the government is not the only privacy-related concern with an electronic employment verification system. Data security is an issue as well. We have seen massive data breaches from government agencies in the recent past, and from private entities too. Watch for identity theft to rise if there is electronic employment eligibility verification.

Illegal workers will need new name and Social Security number pairs to use against the system. The very best source will be the system itself — the SSA and DHS databases, the offices where “tentative nonconfirmations” are processed, the people that process them, and the communications links that connect all these elements. Any electronic employment verification system will be a target for hackers, a data breach waiting to happen, and a threat to the identity system we rely on today. Electronic employment verification would put Americans’ sensitive personal information at risk. The best security against data breach is not collecting information in the first place.

This Byzantine verification system is built on an attempt to revive the collapsing REAL ID Act, the national ID law that has already beenrejected by sixteen [now 24]of the states on which it relies for implementation. Title III requires every American to have a REAL ID compliant card by 2013 if they want to get federal approval for working, and the bill would spend $300 million trying to get states to implement the REAL ID Act. This is a paltry sum, given the more than $10 billion DHS’ own estimates say states would have to spend. That $300 million shouldn’t be spent on a national surveillance system at all; it should be returned to taxpayers. The DHS should not resurrect the failed national ID system through the immigration reform plan. Law-abiding, native-born Americans should be able to work without carrying a national ID.

Bringing immigration law in line with the wants and needs of American citizens and immigrants will do more for the rule of law than the “workplace enforcement” provisions in the immigration bill ever could. Title III is not only unnecessary, but also expensive and invasive. When immigration law reform comes back, lawmakers should closely consider whether surveillance of American workers is something they support, no matter what their positions on other immigration issues.

Jim Harper is the director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. To subscribe, or see a list of all previous TechKnowledge articles, visit

c/o California Healthline

A pair of amendments by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kyl intended to prevent undocumented immigrants from signing up for new programs under the reform legislation were defeated 10-13 along party lines, CQ Today reports.

Grassley’s amendment would have required applicants for Medicaid, or their parents in the case of children, to present a photo ID.

Kyl’s amendment would have mandated that the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and IRS set up “real-time” communications systems between them to verify identification (Wayne [1], CQ Today, 9/30).

BTC – Sen.Grassley increased his invocation of the Real ID Act lately as a concession for immigration reform, as reported earlier this month by AlterNet. Identity and citizenship issues were raised in the finance committee to address how one would qualify for coverage in a Public Option healthcare plan.

Special Comment from BTC editor, Sheila Dean,

Over the course of the summer, everyone’s life has been touched by an embittering battle over our nations prospects for healthcare. Political reform is never easy. Many have attempted to recruit my judgements about the healthcare debate. We have sensitively and accurately stayed far from the healthcare debate so as not to impugn the Real ID debate with the political entrapments of this issue. Trusted friends in the media, Republican & Democrat have gone out of their way to get our validation with no success of extracting comment.
The decline and fall of the Real ID Act is considered a landmark success for those who needed the 10th Amendment to repudiate a run on privacy and identity. States assertion of personal boundaries to the federal government provided relief to frightened citizens facing the overwhelming compromises Real ID regulations would demand on them. Real ID regulations are insidiously dangerous to citizens. No matter how fast and vigorously Rep. James Sensenbrenner jumps up and down waving his copy of the 9-11 Commission Report recommendations; it won’t stop a cloning hacker or greedy marketing aggregates from skimming an EDL card containing intimate information about us, unless we stop ourselves from getting the card. Sensenbrenner won’t be there to pick up the pieces of your life after it happens either.
Those who can endure our silence on this issue for the purposes of staying the committed course against national identity, should continue to do so. For now, observe the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Our friends and family need our moral and ethical support to stay well and to pursue their personal journeys with vitality. Wellness is a huge part of judgements we make daily in the most intimate parts of our lives. Health does in fact touch identity. Which is why it has been so extremely difficult to stay neutral on an issue that is very unfortunately political.
Americans are open to moderate healthcare options.
What people are sick of are unfunded mandates which require excessive prying into their lives. People are afraid. They want to manage their lives independently and with dignity. They comprehend the loss of their freedoms and are overtired with surveillance agendas, expansions on the Patriot Act and our old nemesis, The Real ID Act.
Let’s focus on a breakthrough for humanity where health coverage does not cost persons their rights, their life or life savings. If the focus of national health does not discourage prosperity, you may achieve the historical landmark for healthcare.
For now, I applaud the courage of our President, Barack Obama, who endeavors a great service to the American people by broaching this excruciatingly difficult and historic debate to provide a public option of healthcare. I also applaud all Congressional leaders brave enough to speak their truths about nuances of health care reform.
We point to the wisdom of the founding fathers and guidance of the 4th Amendment as an arc of light to create the tamper-proof clarity for our concerns. You shouldn’t have to choose between the Constitution and healthcare. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

BTC Editorial – Obama disappoints. He disappoints because he’s been assimilated into the machine of Bush’s predecessors. He disappoints because he behaves as Bush did. Make no mistake – there is simply no possible way for a President to pristinely carry the adulation of the American public at all times. Which means that leaders have to have a fallback plan after the Honeymoon is over. However, so many elected him on the auspices that we wouldn’t get the Bush treatment.
Obama still has a chance to come correct. He can change direction any time he chooses. The issue for actors on the world stage is always MOTIVATION. Where does the context for these decisions come from?
This spring, I think Cheney has made himself a little too important. He wasn’t getting the cooperation of his former colleague, Obama. Obama himself, his staff and those in current governance are not immune to self-preservation. Cheney as a retiree couldn’t settle for skeet shooting, he decided to go duck hunting instead. If he couldn’t kill a duck – he could make one lame. He set his sights this spring on Obama and here we are.
For salt, I always blame the CIA. They suck. They don’t respect anyones privacy or humanity. They want too much information. They get what they want because they are heavily rewarded to lie, cheat and steal. What kind of people are stocked up in an agency dispatched to upset small 3rd world governments and assassinate democratically elected leaders?
I am someone who still believes in free speech and the cemented ideal center of the U.S. Constitution. I can point out those in Congress and the Senate who actually value the document as is and those who legally observe it when it is expedient for business. Sometimes it really depends on the issue.
Obama always had a plan for the internet. It’s really no big surprise with Emmanuel as a sidekick, Jane Harman in an Intelligence Director position and Cheney skulking around as an unwanted consultant that the internet is now a big problem for the incumbent government. I would be insecure too if I farmed out 20 million Americans livelihood overseas, sold them into debt slavery to China over a war most supporters were duped into after 9-11. I’m sure all the complaining is really starting to get to them.
I don’t think things are going Obama’s way right now; so he is taking it out on the public by trying to castrate our technology and communications. I bet he feels stuck. He couldn’t keep Monsanto out of Michelle’s garden, much less our food supply leadership. You see, he’s been trying to get some kind of health care to sick people. Instead of the lobby sponsors bending a bit and working with some of the Republican interests on how things play out or parsing up the bill and working constructively about specific concerns of Red state Americans; it’s been fight or flight, my way or the highway.
Should we allow our nation to be run by bunch of spoiled shortsighted bureaucrats? Is tolerating this cafeteria food fight the best Obama can do?
It’s really hard when people call your good thing, bad.
At the end of the day, Obama is one guy. The more isolated our President gets, the more people like Cheney and advisors like Rahm Emmanuel aim to suck the marrow out of him.
In the meantime, the town halls have become stages for Americans who never get a chance to say much of anything on their own behalf. It’s a new thing for shortsighted Congressional leaders to deal with auditoriums filled with Americans who are both sick and underemployed because of their stupidity. They never thought they would ever see those people in those circumstances. Most of them were working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. They’ve got plenty of spare time now to fix their aberrant government.
America is just filled with bunches of crankypants and fusspots.
Republican or Democrat? Vote anyone but incumbent or you’ll get the same. Bush’s people who weren’t cycled out in the inauguration tides are hanging around like corpses fouling the enduring tide. There’s your problem.
Watch out for the wave of workhorse independents who don’t have law degrees who will be running for office in an election near you.