This isn’t how medical privacy is supposed to work.

Pennsylvania is in love with fracking, and they don’t care who knows it. Their legislature passed a bill last month that makes it a secret what awful chemicals that energy companies are injecting into the ground in order to extract natural gas. It’s such a secret, in fact, that if somebody is poisoned by some of these concoctions, he’s not allowed to be told what substance, exactly, has brought him to death’s doorstep. His doctor must sign a confidentiality agreement in order to even know what the poison is, and he’s prohibited from telling the patient what chemical he’s been poisoned with. This is part of a strange new trend that holds that the rights of corporations are more important than the rights of humans. If a corporation is offended by birth control, it gets to prohibit their employees from using it. If a corporation poisons somebody, it gets to prohibit that person from knowing what they’ve been poisoned with. It’s all about protecting people’s freedoms, dontchaknow? 

42 thoughts on “This isn’t how medical privacy is supposed to work.”

  1. The fracking secrecy, as you describe it, seems unconscionable. But I’m a little dubious b/c of the way you frame the birth control debate. It is manifestly not a “new trend” that a corp doesn’t have to provide birth control. It’s always been that way. Keeping it that way is simply maintaining the status quo. The “new trend” is Obamacare insisting that corps cover birth control even against their own conscience. It’s the government coercion that’s a “new trend.”

    Second, you say “it (the corp) gets to prohibit its employees from using it.” No, it does not. They remain, as they always have been, free to use whatever birth control they like. The difference is that the government cannot coerce their employers into paying for it.

    I don’t think I’m nitpicking. These distintions are important.

  2. I’ve been imagining and dreaming about an upcoming earthquake on the east coast within the next 14 weeks. (7.5)Maybe it’s the fracking that will set it off.

  3. Any drilling company / petroleum company which may believe that their politician-droids have provided them with protection from toxic poisoning liability from their contaminants is in for a big surprise. Next stop; taxpayers on the hook for cleanup and replacement water supplies.

  4. But I’m a little dubious b/c of the way you frame the birth control debate. It is manifestly not a “new trend” that a corp doesn’t have to provide birth control. It’s always been that way. Keeping it that way is simply maintaining the status quo. The “new trend” is Obamacare insisting that corps cover birth control even against their own conscience. It’s the government coercion that’s a “new trend.”

    We’re not talking about businesses providing it. We’re talking about health insurance companies providing it. Health insurance companies who really, really want their members to use birth control, because it’s substantially cheaper than babies. Insurers covering birth control brings down the total cost of care, which actually saves money for the businesses whose employees are members.

    Second, you say “it (the corp) gets to prohibit its employees from using it.” No, it does not. They remain, as they always have been, free to use whatever birth control they like. The difference is that the government cannot coerce their employers into paying for it.

    You are right only insofar as somebody faced with such a choice could quit their job but, obviously, that’s not a reasonable option for most people. You might not be familiar with the Arizona bill that would allow employers to fire women for using contraceptives, unless the women can prove that they are using them for medical, non-reproductive purposes (as if that is any of their employer’s business). Remember that the conclusion that the White House arrived at in the debate last month was to permit health insurance companies to provide birth control to its members, at no cost whatsoever to the employers of those members. So the businesses have nothing to do with this, and yet still they demand the right to fire employees for using the birth control that they do not pay for.

    No coercion. Just a relationship between a woman and her doctor, facilitated by her health insurance company, into which businesses are trying to insert themselves.

  5. Hear, hear, Waldo. I’d also add the corporations do not, and cannot have consciences.

    But let;s pretend for a moment that they do. What’s more, let’s say the employer does pay the premium for the employees health insurance. Even if that’s the case, that’s just a specialized form of compensation, earned income for the employee. So what conservatives are saying is that your employer, as a matter of conscience, ought to have some say on how you spend the money you earn while working for them. Well, what if you’re employer is an animal right’s activist. Can he deny you coverage for medicines that were tested on animals? Can he fire you for eating meat? For driving and SUV? For giving money to the NRA?

  6. This is about secret formulas remaining secret so the competition can’t get them. It doesn’t have anything to do with the patient knowing. Knowing that it’s the fracking that’s causing the problem is all that necessary for a patient to know. Basically the fracking companies are willing to do the doctors and patients a favor in telling them what might be wrong with the patient and how to fix it, but only if they don’t use that knowledge to leak their secret formulas to their competitors. That’s a basic contract and makes sense. I think it’s a deal that any patient would be delighted to take.

    OTOH, the real problem is that the fracking companies are allowed to do fracking with chemicals that damage the health of people living in the area. That should either be totally off limits or they should have to properly warn and then properly compensate the affected people (that includes paying for their land if it was made worthless, paying for their medical treatment, etc, etc).

    That’s the real issue. Not this thing of secrecy. If I tell a doctor a secret cure because I figured out what’s happening to his patient, I absolutely have the right to make him promise not to tell before I tell him. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

  7. Well, what if you’re employer is an animal right’s activist. Can he deny you coverage for medicines that were tested on animals? Can he fire you for eating meat? For driving and SUV? For giving money to the NRA?

    Of course he can! It’s a free country. When we start tinkering with that, there’s no telling where we’ll stop. We already see this with certain industries (teachers, especially come to mind) being unable to fire lazy, incompetent (even pedophile) workers because of the straitjackets they’ve been put in. The simple fact is, an employer should have the liberty to hire, fire, and choose compensation as he likes. There shouldn’t even be racial non-discrimination rules any more. There was a brief season where that was necessary, but not anymore. If an employer is racist, making a rule about it isn’t going to help–what minority wants to work for a stupid bigoted, racist anyway? Eventually the racist will suffer in his business because he’ll hire incompetent whites over a competent minority.

  8. I would add to my last sentence: “Eventually the racist will suffer in his business because he’ll hire incompetent blacks over a competent white person.”

  9. Arizona is about to join other Republican-controlled states and protect doctors from liability should they not inform a woman that she is carrying a damaged fetus, it is known as “wrongful birth protection”. At the same time Mitt Romney has endorsed Republican-sponsored legislation across the nation that would allow employers to deny health care coverage for items that conflict with their “beliefs or moral convictions”. I believe that it is wrong, and am morally opposed to providing health care coverage for employee decisions to bring a birth defective fetus to full term. Everybody good with my decision to deny long term health care to employee dependents with birth defects?

  10. Hans wrote:

    “There shouldn’t even be racial non-discrimination rules any more. There was a brief season where that was necessary, but not anymore.”

    Brief? Season? Where do you live? I want to live there. It seems like a different – and wonderful – world.

  11. Where do you live? I want to live there. It seems like a different – and wonderful – world.

    I lived in NoVA (Manassas) most of my life and I now live in the Hutchinson, KS. I’ve found racism to be a problem in neither place.

  12. Hans is clearly a straight, white male. Geez.

    Sincerely,
    A white Manassas resident who sees and reads discriminatory stuff all the frackin’ time.

  13. Hans wrote, “It’s a free country!”

    Wow, I haven’t heard that once since I was seven years old and arguing with my mom about something I didn’t want to do.

    It’s actually not, entirely, a free country. But it’s convenient at times to assert that American citizens have total freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

  14. Wow, white much? :)

    Hans is clearly a straight, white male. Geez.

    It’s a cliche that white people can’t “see” racism, but when you think about it for more than five seconds, it’s utterly absurd. It’s like saying that Russians are not qualified to judge the corruption of their own government because they’re Russian too. Which is opposite from the truth. They’re the closest to it and best positioned to report and judge.

    This especially applies today where 99.999% of the lingering racism is subtle attitudes and comments. I’ve heard white people express subtle, racists sentiments that they would never say to a black person’s face out of politeness. Thus, I’m quite a bit better positioned to see racism.

    Wow, I haven’t heard that once since I was seven years old and arguing with my mom about something I didn’t want to do.

    Laying aside non-sequitur* reminiscing about your childhood, my argument lines up perfectly with the liberal argument that the government shouldn’t interfere in private contracts between two parties. (Civil unions.)

    * I told my mommy as a seven year old that racism exists, so that makes your argument wrong and stupid, because I was just a silly seven year old.

  15. My firm just hired a barely qualified African-American paralegal over an experienced, highly qualified white candidate. We needed another black face in the building because some of our clients demand it.

    Waldo is correct. Racism is alive and well.

  16. Interesting news out of the Texas Supreme Court:http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2012/mar/03/texas-landowners-own-groundwater-in-place/

    Apparently, now people own the water under the land in Texas, something similar to owning mineral rights. I don’t know of another place where you can own an aquifer like that. So now someone should be able to take a sample of their own property to a lab and have it analyzed. (I still don’t know why people can’t do that if their drinking water is compromised.) I would think then it would be pretty easy to prove who is damaging your property.

  17. If the facts you describe are true, I.Pub., that would be an example of a form of discrimination. Racism is a different phenomenon. I’m surprised you don’t know that.

  18. Hans, I hate to burst your bubble, but racism is very much alive and well. Substantial progress has been made, but take a look at the plethora of statistics measuring the factor of race on salaries, education levels, GPA, poverty, incarceration, economic mobility or, well, anything really. If you think racism is only indicated by verbal or physical violence, I suggest you revisit the definition of the word.

  19. I seem to recall seeing a documentary a few years ago, all about racism in Prince William County. It was great—infuriating, but great. Anybody remember what that’s called?

    Funny thing, making a documentary about a thing that doesn’t exist. :)

  20. Substantial progress has been made, but take a look at the plethora of statistics measuring the factor of race on salaries, education levels, GPA, poverty, incarceration, economic mobility or, well, anything really.

    I just have to laugh when liberals call themselves the side of science, reason, and hard facts. You’re violating one of the most basic rules of objective and scientific discovery which is correlation != causation.

  21. Claire, you’re kidding, right?

    It is discrimination based solely on race. A person of one race is deemed “better” than a person of a different race.

    Racism.

  22. Nope. And no points for hoping to muddle the semantics of the issue by offering up “better” as a synonym for “inherently superior” in the context of a defintion of racism.

    Racism would be when a guy looks around his firm and sees a black guy and says “huh, he only got that job because he’s black — there’s no way he’s actually qualified for the job, because black people aren’t very smart.” In other words, racism requires believing in general that racial differences correlate with inherent superiority or inferiority. A racist draws conclusions about individuals based on generalizations about their race.

    What you’re describing is a situation in which a guy gets hired not because the firm concluded that he was innately superior based on his skin color. They may have found him preferable, in a pragmatic sense, but based on your own evaluation of the candidate, no one there was thinking “black guys, by their very nature as black guys, are GREAT in this kind of job — therefore let’s hire the black guy!” Why, you yourself described him as barely qualified, and the white guy as highly experienced.

    To repeat: discrimination based on race is not racism. Believing members of a race to be inherently, innately inferior in mental and moral capacity is racism.

  23. Funny thing, making a documentary about a thing that doesn’t exist. :)

    The display of liberal intellect and reason keeps getting better and better. Someone that agrees with me made a documentary about it, so it must be true. There’s some rock solid proof for ya.

  24. What’s the cause, then?

    Generational habits. Personal choices. These kinds of problems are not racially limited. I work at helping these kinds of folks all the time and it crosses the racial divide. Just heard a story from a 17 year old white girl tonight. My heart breaks.

  25. Apparently, now people own the water under the land in Texas, something similar to owning mineral rights. I don’t know of another place where you can own an aquifer like that. So now someone should be able to take a sample of their own property to a lab and have it analyzed. (I still don’t know why people can’t do that if their drinking water is compromised.) I would think then it would be pretty easy to prove who is damaging your property.

    That sounds like a commonsense market-based plan that both liberals and conservatives can get behind. We love environmental protections if it’s market driven and based upon property rights. What we don’t like is when environmentalism is anti-market and tramples on property rights. There’s a way to sync those up and as usual, Texas is at the forefront of doing it.

  26. Look, I work with disadvantaged kids from the poorest parts of town all the time. Their stories all follow the same themes no matter what race they are, black, white, hispanic, mixed race, you name it. Poor choices by parents. Single parent homes. Bad examples. Irresponsibility. Abuse. Etc. The simple truth is, there is no difference between the races when it comes to those kinds of failures. It’s the same story no matter what their race. And it all comes back to personal bad choices and bad choices of parents. Their problems are not caused by outsiders.

    One of the fundamental problems in thinking by those on both sides of the aisle is that poverty and lack of success is something that can be solved by throwing money at it and making programs. That’s baloney. We need to actually spend time with people. We need to hang out with them, hear their stories, help them out in life, serve as examples of how life can be lived, teach them, mentor them, love them. As people who have been given so much–parents that love us and were good examples to us of responsible living–we need to be out there passing it along to those less fortunate.

    Back to government laws and race, there was a time when there was overt and systemic racism. That’s when laws were appropriate to combat it. The kinds of racism that we see today falls under two categories:
    1. KKK-style and Black Panther-style stuff that’s illegal under regular laws against violence and intimidation
    2. Covert attitudes that can’t be solved or helped by laws

    But yeah, I’d encourage both liberals and conservatives to go out and help the underprivileged in your communities. Staying home and blaming illusory racists for the problems of the disadvantaged doesn’t do those folks a bit of good. Go actually help them.

  27. Good grief, Claire. Now you’re just being obtuse. Who cares if people have racist attitudes unless those attitudes result in discriminatory policies?

    What are you, the thought police?

  28. Yeah, sure, if “thought police” to you means someone who thinks. I’ll be that.

    Lots of people think racist attitudes are undesirable in and of themselves. I’m not surprised, though, to hear that you’re not among those people.

  29. Claire, I believe I. Publius’ point was not that he didn’t personally care, but that the law has no right to “care”/punish speech (unless threatening or inciting to illegal activities) or thoughts (under any circumstances). Are you really advocating for Minority Report-style legislation? Or were you just being purposefully obtuse and snarky?

  30. Someone that agrees with me made a documentary about it, so it must be true. There’s some rock solid proof for ya.

    The documentary is called 9500 Liberty. It’s pretty jaw-dropping. The best moment, IMHO, was when Supervisor Marty Nohe (a conservative Republican) realized that his own actions were racist when his daughter (black, adopted; he’s white) asked him why he wanted people who look like her to be kicked out of Prince William.

    Really, of all of the places in the country where you could say that there isn’t any racism, you went and chose the place where a documentary was made about its stunning racism.

  31. The documentary is called 9500 Liberty. It’s pretty jaw-dropping.

    Well, I suppose it’s possible that the documentary has something different than the trailer, but if the trailer is a half-way indication of the contents of the documentary, there’s no racism shown. Enforcing the law against illegal immigration is not racism.

    This sums it up well:

    A recent final report by the University of Virginia has found that Prince William County’s popular law enforcement initiative, which is similar to that of Arizona, has benefited the county and worked effectively.

    That county’s Latino population swelled more than 150 percent from 2000 to 2006. The report says “the number of illegal immigrants in the county definitely increased during these years.”

    At the same time, the county saw rising crime, proliferating day labor congregants, overcrowding of single-family homes, public misconduct and increasing complaints by residents.

    The county board, led by Chairman Corey Stewart (R), put this policy in place to restore public order and ensure public safety.

    Shrill apologists for illegal immigrants used their Saul Alinsky tactics to fight the rational measure. Liberal news media like The Washington Post intoned the (Democrat) party line. But the county’s responsive public servants pressed forward.

    The full-throated initiative puts county law enforcement on the job checking arrested suspected illegals’ immigration status. While that might be “controversial” in the rarified air of left-wing salons, it’s common sense, popular and welcome in real America.

    I have Hispanic friends in Manassas. One family in particular that I can think of was there legally and the illegals made it hard for them to compete because my friends were law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. You can’t compete with someone that’s not playing by the rules. Isn’t that the message of OWS?

    I am actually starting to get very angry at liberals through this thread. You pretend to stand up for minorities, but you’re really just perpetually victimizing them. I spend a significant chunk of my time actually helping them. You sit back in your little academic theories and make the situation worse by trying to portray law enforcement into racism.

  32. Hans, we all learn from personal experience. Your job must be a difficult; kudos to you. But, somehow you think that gives you all the answers; both cause and effect. You arrogantly decide what causes all the problems to a complex problem routed in the history of this country (not a “brief season”), based on your PERSONAL experience. Are you seriously that naive? My God.

    We all have different personal experiences and it galls me that you (and others) think YOUR personal experience is the one that is all encompassing. Do you honestly not see – or consider – other experiences? Do you really, REALLY, think your one job and one corner of geography is emblematic of the entire “racism” issue this country has/is dealing with? Are you that….self-centered? There are no other experiences that might be valid?

    Damn, that attitude pisses me off.

    My lengthy (sorry) point: your experience doesn’t equal the entirety. And you should know that.

  33. Of course I know that. Your mistake is assuming that my personal experience is what I’m hanging my beliefs entirely upon. It’s very important to my beliefs on the issue as it is for us all, but it’s not nearly complete.

  34. Ok. But you based your entire thesis on your experience, as if there is no other.

    “I have Hispanic friends…”. Oh jeez. You’re doing it again. I see your minority “friends experience” and raise you…

    I have black friends who have never experienced obvious or even covert racism. I am a white woman who has never experienced sexual harassment (seemingly because I know how to tell men to shut the fuck up ;-). It doesn’t mean those things don’t exist.

    Stop using anecdotal evidence to support your points. Anyone, and everyone, has anecdotal stories. They don’t mean shit.

  35. Single anecdotes when dishonestly ripped from context do not have explanatory power. A life lived in the midst of the situation in question does.

  36. So you think your white male life lived partially in the midst of a “situation” is a good basis from which to draw your rather profound conclusions.

    Ok. :-(

  37. Well, it looks like we’ve come full circle to the silly cliche that because I’m white and male that I can’t possibly have an accurate viewpoint about racism.

    Let me re-state my positions as they’ve become muddied by time and assumptions along the way.

    Overt and systemic racism of the Jim Crow type is history in the U.S. Marches and civil rights movements and laws rightfully combated those acts of racism.Racist attitudes still exist and sometimes manifest themselves into action on an individual level.Enforcing immigration law is not racism. (Enforcing immigration law inequally would be. If a PWC officer arrested a Kenyan or Russian, found his immigration status was illegal, and failed to deport him, THAT would be racism.) (I’m very pro-Hispanic immigration, btw, I just believe they should follow the law like everyone else.)

    The sorts of racism the U.S. faces today are not the sorts that can be solved by laws. (Like was mentioned upthread, you can’t legislate thoughts. And it’s nearly impossible to prove motives if there’s a legit alternative explanation.) Social pressure and education are the effective tools that have been eradicating lingering racism. Affirmative action works against that, inflaming racial feelings on both sides.

    There is a residual disparity in a wide range of “success” indicators among *some* ethnic minorities.

    It is very illuminating to compare the following races and ask yourself whether it’s racism or whether it’s internal choices and cultures that are holding these races back:

    African American
    Non-white
    Minority
    Served in the U.S. Army in the Civil War and every war since
    Were the objects of racism in American history (slavery)
    Below average indicators of success

    Japanese
    Non-white
    Minority
    Were the initiators of a sneak attack against the U.S in the U.S.’s most devastating modern war
    Were the objects of racism in American history (WWII)
    Above average indicators of success

    Hispanic
    Non-white
    Minority
    Don’t do as well in school, but do well in business; hard-working and successful

    Sheesh, even Arab immigrants (breaking with most of my conservative friends, I believe there is actually real and harmful racism directed against Arab and Muslim immigrants) are doing better than African Americans.

    Obviously there’s something different.

    American culture idolizes African American culture. I mean, really, who is cooler than Will Smith?

    The idea that anyone thinks racism is the reason African Americans lag just blows my mind when stacked up against all the empirical evidence of both American pop culture and of other minority races’ success in America.

    The simple truth is that African Americans are working very hard at destroying themselves through hip hop culture.

    The final part of what I believe is that the only way that liberals or conservatives can actually help the “less successful” is by living with them, helping them through life, giving them jobs, mentoring them, providing housing, loving them, caring for them, grieving with them, living life with them. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s also what I call on everyone in this thread to start doing: stop pointing fingers and start making a difference in a positive way (not by tearing other people down).

  38. Argh, my OL and UL and LI tags got stripped. Waldo, could you fix? “Overt” is the beginning of an OL and the points under each race are ULs. Please add 1., 2., 3. to the OL and *s to the ULs.

  39. See, anytime we start playing the blame game, we hurt only ourselves. Any successful person will tell you that this is true in their personal lives. Waldo is a person who has been successful in the areas that I’m familiar with. I can guarantee you he did not achieve success by wallowing in or dwelling on how others have treated him unfairly. No. He worked hard to succeed despite obstacles. My ancestors had far worse things done to them than slavery: tortured, drowned, burned at stake, driven from their homes, property seized, made refugees, etc. But yet, my people continued to be a success wherever they’ve gone. (My people are the Amish.) We haven’t dwelt on past injustices, trying to get justice for ourselves or make our tormentors pay for our rehab or tried to make them feel guilty or get special treatment whenever we go to Switzerland. (We’ve gotten thrown in jail by the U.S. government as recently as WWI because we are conscientious objectors to being violent. That same belief has caused us lots of persecution from our American neighbors in each war since, with decreasing severity.) We’ve worked hard with the bad situation we’ve been given and we’ve succeeded.

    Anyone on this thread who’s been successful in life knows that you can’t succeed by dwelling on past injustices from co-workers, bosses, Benedict Arnold “friends”, or ex-‘es. You have to work hard to build a better future for yourself. Yet, encouraging African-Americans to dwell on past injustices is a platform of the Democratic party.

    The only reason that I put energy into this discussion (you won’t see me doing this kind of thing over at the DailyKos for instance) is because I believe that Waldo is a thinking liberal who’s honest about his stances. I agree with much of what he posts and especially applaud his government transparency efforts and anti-corruption efforts. Thus I feel like what I have to say will receive a fair hearing rather than being a waste of time with someone whose mind is already made up. I also value learning where I am wrong.

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