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Medicare Breaches Raise Concerns About Health ID Bill

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—AUSTRALIA

March 4, 2010

Medicare Australia's disclosure of more than 1,000 cases of unauthorised access to client records in the past three years is raising privacy concerns about administration of the Healthcare Identifiers Bill, The Australian reports. Under the healthcare ID bill, Medicare would issue every Australian a 16-digit number, while healthcare providers would be given similar identifiers to access patient numbers. Between November 2006 and December 2009, Medicare investigated 1,058 cases, determining that 54 percent were instances of unauthorised access. "Healthcare authorities have always claimed Medicare staff respect people's privacy," says Juanita Fernando, health spokeswoman for the Australian Privacy Foundation, cautioning that the alleged data breaches should raise particular concern in light of the new legislation.
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