Racial Privacy Measure to Appear on March 2004 Ballot; Public Health Advocates Raise Concerns
A measure that would prohibit the collection of "all but a few types" of individuals' racial data by state and local governments will appear on the March 2004 ballot, raising concerns from some public health advocates, the Los Angeles Times reports (Bustillo, Los Angeles Times, 7/16). The measure, called the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prohibit the identification of individuals' race in state and local government documents, including hospital records (California Healthline, 4/19). The measure would allow the collection of some racial data for medical and law enforcement purposes. Opponents of the measure, including some public health advocates, said that the proposal would "whitewash reality by preventing government from collecting information that sometimes highlights injustice and helps combat disease" (Los Angeles Times, 7/16). According to doctors, diseases such as breast cancer, diabetes and asthma have different effects on each race. The doctors have raised concerns that the elimination of racial data from medical records could "obscure a disease cluster among one racial group" and delay treatment (California Healthline, 4/19). State officials approved the measure after supporters collected 694,586 valid signatures, more than the 670,816 required, after the June 27 deadline to appear on the November ballot, which would have "made it a factor" in the gubernatorial election, the Times reports. As a result, the measure will appear on the March 2004 ballot, the next statewide election (Los Angeles Times, 7/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.