The U.S. Census Bureau is gathering information from select households to “improve the health of children and families throughout the United States.”
According to a letter from the Census sent to one household in Kansas on June 23, the information requested is part of the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The letter includes a $5 bill for participation, a paper survey, and a link and ID to participate digitally. The study takes 40 minutes for households with children to complete. The letter states the Census Bureau is required by law to protect information.
The NSCH survey topics include child and family characteristics; physical and mental health status, including current conditions and functional difficulties; health insurance status, type, and adequacy; access and use of health care services; medical, dental, and specialty care needed and received; family health and activities; the impact of child’s health on family; and neighborhood characteristics.
The survey asks participants whether their child had ever been “treated or judged unfairly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Health or Equity Survey?
One person who received the mailed survey, Kansas state Sen. Beverly Gossage (R-Johnson County), who is a health insurance agent, says the questions were invasive.
“The survey asked for names, sex, race, ages of children, their health conditions, and what medications they were taking,” said Gossage. “Why does a government survey need to know such private health information?”
Gossage says the government could also be probing to push more spending in the name of social determinants of health.
“There is a push now to expand the use of Medicaid dollars to pay for non-health care services, such as housing and food,” said Gossage.
Data Collection Costly
An NSCH survey conducted in 2021 by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within HHS that administers 90 programs for care to low-income Americans, reached out to 300,000 households and after screening, 50,892 surveys were completed, according to the Census Bureau.
The cost of this data collection is another concern, says Gossage.
“My survey included a $5 bill, not to mention the mailing costs for each survey packet,” Gossage said. “How much and what benefit do we get out of this research other than to increase government spending?”
Data collection by the U.S. Census Bureau is used for a variety of purposes, says Twila Brase, president and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), a watchdog organization.
“The Census Bureau is a tool for government surveillance, not only to monitor the public but to use the data gathered from so-called community surveys to drive policy and funding in whatever direction the sponsoring agency wants it to go,” said Brase. “This can be in the opposite direction of where taxpayers and freedom-loving citizens want to go. As the Census has moved far beyond the simple 10-year census, the government is pushing to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans.”
CCHF recommends people not participate in this kind of data collection, says Brase.
“The power of government is police power,” said Brase. “Data on individuals and groups can be used to harm Americans economically and personally. As I like to say, ‘He who holds the data makes the rules.’ Refusing to divulge details about your family and your home protects your freedom and your constitutional rights in a free society.”