Privacy and your healthEditorial, Top Highlights Thursday, September 15th, 2016
The question of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s health due to her bout with pneumonia has put the concept of health care privacy to the test. HIPAA, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was passed in part to ensure that your personal health information is protected. So your employer cannot ask information about your health. For example, a potential employer cannot ask if you are pregnant, have HIV or have had cancer.
Presidential candidates are different. Over my lifetime, presidential candidates and their running mates have always released their health records. Usually with no great fanfare. In 1972 Sen. Tom Eagleton released his health records which revealed he had been hiding severe bouts of depression that led to several hospitalizations. Presidential candidate George McGovern ultimately forced Eagleton off the ticket and replaced him with Sargent Shriver.
Can you imagine if your employment was based upon your health status? I do understand that some may find it of utmost importance for the highest and most powerful position in the world. However, a little history lesson is in order. Had a health requirement been the standard, we may have never gotten Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While FDR’s disability caused by polio was evident to the press corps, he was often photographed standing even though he was paralyzed from the hips down. His disability was described by some reporters; it was not the Internet age where images are flashed across the globe in seconds. I doubt that a “cripple” would have been elected in 1932. Most likely voters know of Secretary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia, the question is will they think that means she’s dying?
John F. Kennedy is also a president of note that had major health problems, most prevalent Addison’s Disease which causes extreme fatigue, fainting, low blood sugar and depression. We now know that Kennedy was treated with hormone therapy his entire presidency. It is unclear with his ailments whether Kennedy would ever have been elected in 1960.
FDR and Kennedy are two examples of presidencies that might have been derailed by “health” issues. What would America be like it there was no New Deal or the beginning of the American space program or the advancement of African American civil rights? An America that I would not like to live in.
Even Donald Trump practiced unusual subtlety on the matter of Clinton’s health Monday saying, I hope she gets well soon. I would hate for any presidential candidacy to be derailed by rumored health problems, even Trump’s.
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