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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

April 20, 2012

Letter from CCHF's President

Medical privacy is becoming a very big issue. This week I was at a legislative hearing on patient consent. One lobbyist for a health plan owned by Fairview Health Services claimed the ability to keep patient data secure is better now with electronic medical records (EMRs) than it was with paper medical records.

Then I testified and gave the committee members a different story.

I laid out several key statistics. For instance, about 85 percent of all U.S. companies have experienced more than one data breach. A majority of the breaches are inside jobs, according to Ponemon Institute. The average cost of a breach incident is $7.2 million. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported approximately 7.8 million patients impacted by a breach of medical records in just two years (2009 - 2010). And these are only the breaches that impact 500 people or more.

Then I discussed an incident at Fairview Health Services. In January, Minnesota's Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Accretive Health, Fairview's debt collection contractor, for not protecting confidentiality and for "not disclosing to patients its extensive involvement in their health care through its role in managing the revenue and health care delivery systems..."  Accretive lost a computer with 23,500 patient records and it gained access to patient data through hospital contracts to numerically "score" patients' risk of hospitalization and medical complexity, to grade their "frailty," and to compile per-patient profit and loss reports.

I asked the legislators how easy it would be to first take 23,500 paper medical records out of the hospital and then lose them. So, why did the lobbyist claim electronic data is more secure?

I also shared some ideas for pro-privacy amendments, including consent requirements for online data systems, complete audit logs made available to patients, a prohibition on coercive one-page consent forms with multiple and diverse sections but only one signature line. (If you get asked to sign one of these, please ask for an extra copy and send it to me)

Breaches are impossible to stop, say experts. To underscore the insecurity to online and electronic medical records, last month a group of five data experts said the issue of breaches is getting bigger and the industry is getting worse at stopping them. Ask Emory Healthcare. On Wednesday, they announced a breach impacting 315,000 patients.

One good piece of news: BMSF Railway just rescinded an intrusive policy that would have forced their employees to "share doctor's notes, diagnostic test results and hospital discharge summaries" with BMSF Railway.

Now on to the news . . .

News to Know:

It Sounds Good, But...

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev), a freshman in Congress and a physician, has introduced a bill to keep some of the so-called popular sections of Obamacare. Young adults would be allowed to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26. But this provision has increased the cost of family insurance and led to the demise of inexpensive child-only policies in at least 17 states. Heck would also require insurers to accept everyone who applies for coverage, regardless of how sick or well they are. This is the ban on pre-existing conditions. It sounds good, but this provision eviscerates the very concept of health insurance. Insurance is purchased for risk, not for certainty. This would be like requiring fire insurance companies to sell insurance to a person whose house is burning. Such a mandate will increase costs and advance national health care.

O'Care's Booming Bureaucracy

From September 2008 through December 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grew by 9,424 employees. The Secretary added 3,000 to her office alone, likely to implement Obamacare. So far, 12,307 pages of Obamacare regulations and notices have been issued through the Federal Register. That is 356% more pages than the 2,700-page bill. The IRS is getting $500 million and 837 new employees will be hired to enforce the controversial individual mandate, to secure the $82.3 billion in new taxes and to administer the tax subsidies provided through the government health insurance exchanges. Sen. Jeff Sessions staff has calculated the cost of Obamacare's long-term unfunded liability - a whopping $17 trillion.

Bankruptcy: Meet Newt

Newt Gingrich's think tank, The Center for Health Transformation, has filed for bankruptcy with debts up to $10 million. The organization lasted just eight years. Gingrich has a history of leaving organizations in debt. Of 12 groups launched since 1984, five groups have been investigated by the IRS, five were shut down due to bankruptcy, and two were involved in legal action. The Center collected at least $37 million from insurance and industry groups. Gingrich had pushed for a "21st century intelligent health system" that included centralized electronic medical records, comparative effectiveness research, and an individual mandate -- all initiatives found in Obamacare. The Center's website is no longer functioning.

Obamacare "Slaves"?

Health care is not a right, writes Richard Salsman, author, and president and chief market strategist of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc. in Forbes. Almost everyone involved in the SCOTUS debate over the individual mandate, he says, thinks health care is a right. He points to the legal briefs, the oral arguments and some of the Supreme Court justices. Thus, he writes, "most everyone in this alleged 'debate' is merely quibbling over how much the rights of health care providers will be violated." He calls it a form of slavery, and says "you have no 'right' to take from health care providers what they're not willing to supply." Great article.

A Doctor Responds

In response to the Forbes article, a physician wrote the following email: "...if health care is a right, then the government is obligated to protect that right for all citizens ...Please note that this is a right to health care and not right to health insurance that is being promoted. A very important distinction...

"...if the government can mandate that individuals are coerced, under penalty of law, to buy health insurance, then there is nothing to prohibit the government from coercing physicians, under penalty of law (e.g., restriction of licensure) to provide health care services to fulfill the government's obligation to meet the need for health care services. Perhaps a physician 'draft' system will be set up - either a two to four year term that all licensed physicians have to fulfill or (like in the armed forces reserve system) - three days a month plus two weeks in the summer."

News Release of the Week

17 Trillion Reasons to Repeal Obamacare

St. Paul, Minn. - As if Obamacare opponents didn't have enough cause to fight to repeal the federal health care law, three new billion-dollar financial reasons emerged this week, further proving that the government health reform law will be detrimental for the country.

Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, a patient-centered national health policy organization based in St. Paul, Minn., has long fought Obamacare for reasons ranging from its unconstitutional nature and infringement on religious freedoms to the sharing of private patient data through a federal government hub. These most recent fiscal reasons should put to rest any remaining arguments that Obamacare will be good for the nation, she says.

"Perhaps once we see on paper that Obamacare will put our nation even further in debt, we will come to our senses about this federal health care plan," Brase said. "At this point, lie upon lie has been told about the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Even the name itself is a misnomer in light of these new numbers that show that Obamacare will undoubtedly help plunge our county even further into financial ruin. This law is simply wrong for America."   Continue reading

Action Items:

Comment on Fed's Plan to Enhance Compliance With Medications

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health is seeking information about causes, impact and potential solutions associated with the public health problem of prescription medication non-adherence in adults with chronic conditions. Comments that provide input on and evidence from interventions that improve adherence are particularly encouraged.

DEADLINE: Send your comments in 500 words or less by Monday, May 7.

For more information, including where to send comments, click here

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

End Obamacare, Don't Mend It

Remember when a bunch of doctors in white coats stood next to President Obama supporting Obamacare? Two years later, a different story has emerged from a new survey of 500 physicians under the age of 40. Most of them are bad-mouthing the law.  Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100

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