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Federal judge rules Medicare is not a ‘privacy issue’

A federal judge has ruled Medicare is protected from the kind of data collection that could be considered “data mining” by the government and its contractors.

In a unanimous decision issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest said Medicare’s privacy policies were clear and effective and not designed to target individual Medicare beneficiaries.

The judge also found that the Medicare website does not create an opportunity for private contractors to use Medicare’s data to create content that is harmful or deceptive.

In addition, she said, “it is not clear that the government has a legitimate interest in the data the website collects.”

The ruling comes as the Senate prepares to vote on a sweeping overhaul of Medicare that would slash billions of dollars in federal spending and raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations.

The White House said Friday that it is reviewing the ruling, and that the administration is “committed to working with the court to protect Medicare’s vital data privacy protections and the privacy of all Americans.”