Charisma Caucus

Presidential Candidates Must Release Medical Records? Not So Fast

Students listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as she speaks during a campaign event at Temple University .
Students listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as she speaks during a campaign event at Temple University . (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Hillary Clinton's camp has been dogged by her health concerns, especially after a "medical incident" that caused her to leave the 9/11 memorial service in New York City early and recover at her daughter's apartment. After the sidewalk video seen "'round the world," Clinton's campaign team did release more information about the treatment of her recent bout with pneumonia.

Donald Trump also released some of his own medical information Thursday while talking in a television interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

But is it crucial for voters to know the medical details of each candidate? One patient privacy advocate and freedom-embracing health organization says pressuring a candidate for disclosure of medical records is problematic.

"If every presidential candidate throughout history released to the world the very private medical, emotional and genetic matters that their medical records may have contained, many great leaders may have been precluded from running for leadership positions—including Abraham Lincoln," said Twila Brase, co-founder and president of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF). "Our medical records are our personal business—and for the knowledge of physicians with whom we have a personal relationship. A candidate may even desire to keep certain things private from family members—and that is everyone's privacy right. The doctor's office should be a safe place for everyone, even presidential candidates."

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Brase went on to give three more reasons why medical information—even of those running for president—shouldn't be a consideration at the polls:

  1. A person with concerning details in their medical records could live a healthy life for decades and be very capable for even an extremely demanding job. On the other hand, a person with stellar medical records could become ill or die the day after the election from an unexpected or unknown condition.
  2. Medical records data and assessments can be inaccurate, incomplete and filled with premature diagnoses, which leads to misleading interpretations of the data by outsiders.
  3. As patients, we expect medical privacy for ourselves and should extend that privacy to presidential candidates as well. Even presidential candidates need the freedom to be frank with their doctors.

CCHF's recently launched The Wedge of Health Freedom (jointhewedge.com), where doctors who have said no to costly and restrictive insurance contracts and government regulations are better able to keep their patients' medical information private, namely by not participating in costly and intrusive Electronic Health Records (EHRs) systems.

The first listing of online Wedge practices includes a map of doctors and other medical professionals whom patients around the country can use to find these practices. Inside The Wedge, their medical privacy will be respected and a personal patient-doctor relationship will be fostered.

Around the nation, tucked in small towns and across big cities, doctor's offices and medical clinics are already operating by these health freedom-embracing principles, but are largely invisible to the public. Patients either don't know they exist or don't know how to find them. The Wedge aims to change that through this free-trade zone for health care so that patients and doctors are no longer bound by the shackles of intrusive government health care or restrictive contracts with managed care corporations.

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