Critical Condition

Caught by Surprise

Obama’s HHS secretary should probably know what’s in the health-care bill. However

( – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she has “no idea” about a section of the Senate health-care reform bill that requires her to “develop standards for the measurement of gender”—as opposed to simply relying on “male” and “female”—for use in a new federal database that will collect information about all beneficiaries of government-run or government-supported health care programs.


The purpose of the database is to allow the government “to detect and monitor trends in health disparities” between different groups in the U.S. population.


The language mandating the database is on pages 410-414 of the bill. The specific requirement for the HHS secretary to develop “standards for the measurement of gender” says: “In collecting data described in paragraph (1), the Secretary or designee shall–(A) use Office of Management and Budget standards, at a minimum, for race and ethnicity measures; (B) develop standards for the measurement of gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status, primary language and disability measures.”

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