Limited Taxation & Government
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CLT&G Update
Wednesday, July 22, 1998

Greetings activists and supporters:

Things are pretty hectic at CLT&G these says, as the staff scrambles to finish our move out of the Boston office on Tremont Street while not missing a beat on the political front. We'll be completely out of there by the end of this month, and will continue our mission from our home offices, as Barbara and I have been doing for over a year (and I've always done). I'll keep you posted when the office is officially nothing more than a memory of unnecessary daily commutes.

One of the two lone members of the Beacon Hill "loyal opposition" party, free from the grip of Imperious Maximus Finneran, has spoken out against the "Finneran's Favorites" pay raise, which includes two token Republicans ready to take his blood money in exchange for silence. Treasurer Joe Malone fired a broadside, reported below.

And just as we thought we were making progress in killing the National I.D. Card threat, the Republicans in Congress are promoting yet another use for it!

On the very same day that Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) -- a member of the Capitol Hill Republican House leadership team -- was answering Barbara's direct question, telling the teleconferencing group of state taxpayers groups "never in America!" and glowing over Congress's likely passage of the "Citizens Privacy Protection Act" and "Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act," her Republican counterparts voted to reject delaying a program to give every American "a computer identification number to track health care from birth to death."

The overworked Congressman Ron Paul, along with U.S. Rep. Bob Stump (R-Arizona), has again filed a bill, the "Patient Privacy Act," H.R. 4281.

Despite the political doublespeak, do you smell a concerted effort to get us all registered in the federal government's computer bank and toting around National I.D. Cards, one way or another? (The AP wire story and Congressman Paul's response are below.)

The state Supreme Judicial Kangaroo Court apparently is satisfied with its "out of court settlement" with the Legislature, now that the $700 million for court improvements, and judicial pay raises, have been passed, and it is trying to reclaim a modicum of respectability. Yesterday Associate Justice Neil Lynch finally allowed a ballot question challenged before the SJKC to move forward to the ballot ... the first in a long time!

If that name sounds familiar, it should. It was Associate Justice Lynch who in 1995 ruled that Secretary of State Galvin didn't have to print our second round of petition blanks -- as mandated by the state constitution -- because the court would probably throw it out if eventually approved by the voters. This ruling came even though the full court in its opinion had stated that our "Act to Encourage a Citizen Legislature" (through pay cuts and shorter legislative sessions) was "still introduced and pending."

The Campaign for Fair Electric Rates, which wants the Legislature's electric deregulation law to go before the voters to decide, successfully defeated Associated Industries of Massachusetts' (AIM) and the power companies' challenge on constitutional grounds, as well as their challenges of some 12,000 signatures more than required before the state Ballot Committee and the SJKC. The legal harassment cost to the grassroots group: over $150,000.

Be prepared for a multi-million dollar campaign this fall by the industry to keep their millions, if not billions, in "stranded costs" coming out of us rate-payers' pockets.

Chip Ford --

The Boston Herald
Friday, July 24, 1998

Malone: House leaders unworthy of raise
By Ellen J. Silberman

State Treasurer Joseph D. Malone yesterday called on acting Gov. Paul Cellucci to veto pay raises for well-connected House leaders.

"Paul Cellucci and the Legislature are increasing spending at the rate of 7 percent. That's too liberal," said Malone.

"Their performance is not worthy of a pay raise," said the treasurer, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on the platform that stresses fiscal conservatism.

The $19.6 billion budget approved Monday by the state Legislature adds $7,500 to the paychecks of House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's four floor leaders.

Those positions already pay $7,500 above lawmakers' $46,200 base salary.

Two chairmen, two vice chairmen and two top Republicans also got $7,500 raises as part of the House budget.

The floor leaders wage hikes are controversial because their main job is to count votes and quiet dissent in the House. All the raises are retroactive to January 1997.

On Wednesday, state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, said he would veto the $7,500 wage hikes for 10 of Finneran's top lieutenants if the House didn't approve a minimum-wage increase.

Finneran (D-Mattapan), who opposes raising the salary of the state's lowest paid workers, has been flipping and flopping about whether he plans to allow a vote on the issue.

Despite critics from both sides, Cellucci again refused to commit to killing the legislators' wage hikes.

"I'll announce all my (veto) decisions next week when we sign the budget," Cellucci said.

In May, the acting governor flatly refused to comment on the controversial raises, saying, "It might not even get to my desk. Why cause heartburn if I don't have to?"

Finneran has defended the raises, saying his floor leaders deserve them because they help run the 160-member House of Representatives.

Congress Won't Delay Medical IDs
Associated Press - July 22, 1998

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prompted by questions about patient privacy rights, House Republicans considered -- but rejected  delaying a program to give every American a computer identification number to track health care from birth to death.

In a 1996 law, Congress directed the Clinton administration to implement the plan. But the administration has moved slowly, fearing sensitive information about health and medical treatments could land in the wrong hands.

While the administration has implemented related portions of the law, it has yet to even issue a proposal for the patient ID in light of misgivings by privacy advocates and some doctors' groups.

The ID numbers are meant to aid insurance companies that need to track medical histories as patients move from one plan to another, and to help health researchers by providing unprecedented data about the effect of treatments over a lifetime.

Members of Congress did not recognize the privacy implications of what they had done until media reports about the issue came out this week, said a Republican congressional aide who worked with the House leadership in considering a delay.

Leaders considered putting the plan on hold while they looked at it more carefully, the aide said. But in a meeting late Wednesday afternoon, they decided to let the law stand.

The 1996 law that established the identifying code is known chiefly for allowing many Americans to keep their health insurance when they change jobs, even if they have pre-existing detrimental health conditions. The law also directed the administration to assign codes to health care providers and insurance companies. Those plans are moving forward.

Congress of the United States
Honorable Ron Paul

News Release:  Legislation stops "Medical ID"
Paul measure stops intrusion into private medical histories

Tuesday, July 21, 1998


WASHINGTON, DC - Saying that Americans have the right to privacy in the medical lives, free of fear from prying eyes in the government, US Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on Tuesday introduced the Patient Privacy Act (H.R. 4281) to stop a proposed "medical national ID." US Rep. Bob Stump (R-Arizona) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

The proposed ID program arises from the 1996 "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act." The '96 law calls for the creation of a "standard unique health care identifier" for all Americans. This identifier would create a national database containing the medical history of all Americans.

Rep. Paul, a physician, said the program creates a uniquely horrifying prospect for future privacy losses.

"Suddenly, the medical history of all Americans will be accessible to anyone with a grudge, or with mischievous or criminal intent. It would allow federal bureaucrats and possibly every medical professional, hospital, and HMO in the country to access an individual's record simply by entering the 'identifier' into a national database," said Paul. "I ask my colleagues, how comfortable would you be confiding any emotional problem -- or even an embarrassing physical problem like impotence -- to your doctor if you knew that this information could be easily accessed by friend, political foe, possible employers, coworkers, HMOs, and even government agents?"

Such a system could have a chilling effect on people's desire to get treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions.

"As a physician, I know well that oftentimes effective treatment depends on a patient's ability to place absolute trust in his or her doctor. But how can there be trust when patients know that any and all information given the doctor will be placed in a database accessible to anyone with the patient's 'identifier?'"

Despite assurances from the medical ID proponents, Paul said that nothing could possibly be done to alleviate the potential abuses of the system.

* "History has shown that attempts to protect the privacy of information collected by the government are ineffective at protecting citizens from the prying eyes of government officials. Think of the numerous cases of IRS abuses that have recently been brought to Congress' attention, or the history of abuse of FBI files in the Executive Branch, or even the case of a Medicaid clerk in Maryland who accessed a computerized database and sold patient names to an HMO."

Paul said Congress must act quickly to protect the rights of Americans from prying eyes.

"The federal government has no authority to endanger the privacy of personal medical information by forcing all citizens to adopt a uniform health identifier for use in a national data base. A uniform health ID endangers constitutional liberties, threatens doctor-patient relationships, and opens the door to federal officials accessing to deeply personal medical information for political political purposes," said Paul. "There can be no justification for risking the rights of private citizens."

*   From "High Tech and the Age of Intrusion" By Chip Ford, 1995:

. . . Intense congressional debate occurred over the proposed Social Security Act out of a fear that mandatory enumeration of individual Americans would lead to a national identification program, internal identification papers, and abuses such as those then arising in totalitarian states such as Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's USSR. Proponents and legislators allayed those fears by promising that Social Security Numbers (SSNs) would never be used except for the sole purpose of providing a national record-keeping system for the retirement, survivors, and disability income insurance program then under consideration.

That was the first promise.

The Social Security Act was passed in 1935, and became effective on January 1, 1937. With the stroke of his pen, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a precedent which set the United States on a road of diminishing privacy on a subtle, pervasive scale never before experienced in the history of mankind. Sixty years later its impact and, more importantly, its potential remains beyond our full appreciation or comprehension.

The 1935 assurance of confidentiality and single-purpose necessary for congressional acceptance was breached a little at a time, and always with expressed good intentions. This system of enumeration nurtured a steady expansion in use of SSNs as individual identifiers for purposes both governmental and private. The cumulative result has been an ever-widening and readily available volume of confidential personal documentation -- often of questionable accuracy -- on virtually every citizen in the country.

Since 1970, Congress has incrementally expanded the use of and requirement for SSNs, such as the replacement of military service serial numbers by SSNs. Today's increasing public acceptance of SSNs as a de facto national identification number is evident, and excesses brought on by a broken congressional promise are manifest.

For decades following adoption of the Social Security Act, SSNs were required only of those earning an income and mandated by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act to pay into the FICA fund, and were required to be provided only to employers and banks. The Family Support Act of 1988 changed that by requiring young children and new-borns to be registered with the Social Security Administration and assigned a SSN if they are to be claimed by parents as a tax-deductible dependent.

The promise again was broken and a SSN is now assigned at birth and carried until death and beyond. ...

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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