Oct 9, 2012

No End Of Controversies With Death Master File

     From the New York Times:
A shift last year by the Social Security Administration to limit access to its death records amid concerns about identity theft is beginning to hamper a broad swath of research, including federal government assessments of hospital safety and financial industry efforts to spot consumer fraud. 
For example, a research group that produces reports on organ-transplant survival rates is facing delays because of the extra work it must do to determine whether patients are still alive.  ...
For a decade, the Social Security master file routinely included records provided by the states. But last year, after reports that the widespread availability of death records was facilitating identity theft, the Social Security Administration determined it had been improperly releasing the state records as part of the public master file....
Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, said researchers simply would have to collect the data from the states.
“I don’t want to sound offensive,” Mr. Hinkle said. “But our job is to administer the Social Security program, and administering a death list really isn’t in our core set of workloads. The bottom line is that we have to follow the laws and administer the programs we’re supposed to administer.”

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