Thankfully, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price immediately realized the basic defect in the legislation suggested. “I am not familiar with the bill, but it sounds like there would be some substantial concerns,” Price told NBC’s “Meet the Press” within an understatement. Price’s natural intuition as either a Republican andaphysician, would be to protect privacy; exactly the exact same, nevertheless, cannot be said for the 22 Republicans to the Committee on Education and the Workforce who voted in favor of this bill.
As a supporter of free markets, I still believe private businesses have to have broad freedom in the way they conduct business, including their human resources policies for workers. However, such freedom cannot be without limits; individuals have rights too, which must be safeguarded. Before, Republicans have drawn this line in the security of such privacy. Thus, when it came to protecting a worker’s right to get the most sensitive personal information potential from his employer without penalty, versus creating “health plans,” voting down another blow to personal privacy should have been a no-brainer for Republicans.
Rather, they did just the contrary; underscoring a disturbing trend among the congressional Republicans of not only demonstrating a lack of interest in protecting privacy, but pushing by a philosophical tenet that the Party formerly considered sacrosanct.
As technology rapidly advances, we often struggle to stay informed about its sensible andethical effects. Nowhere is this more true than at the subject of genetics, especially when its medical progress bleed into public coverage. Instead of thoughtful discussion, we’re offered spin made to over-simplify, sanitize, and then mask the real matter. Rarely asked are important questions that have to be answered before proceeding down a course that can likely never be undone. Questions such as what safeguards are in place to restrict access and abuse of genetic data; just how long does this data exist in business databases; may other companies assess this data when interviewing new candidates; are other insurance firms able to get the data? And, perhaps most of all, when (not if)that the national government gains access to such information, can and can it be shared with other agencies and authorities?
These are not hypothetical questions or ones which can be answered by a single congressional committee, or perhaps in a single session of Congress. As Price implied in his remarks, the highly sensitive nature of genetic testing warrants intense examination. Any attempt to rush into expanding the gathering, use and dissemination of personal genetic information should be quashed as a matter of fundamental congressional responsibility. The fact that Republicans in the House failed in this duty should set off alarm bells from the ACLU to the American Conservative Union
Maybe it is the ease by which people may now swab their cheek and mail-in their genetic profile to be analyzed by a business that has run a bevy of slick television advertisements to “discover” one’s “ancestry,” which has lessened the importance of sharing such details. Maybe it is simply another symptom of the ease by which Americans are eager to surrender information to the authorities to “keep us safe against terrorism” in the post-911 entire world. Whatever the reason, it is critical the Secretary Price will use his voice to convince his colleagues — along with also his boss — to curtail this present privacy-invasive move before it increases real traction.