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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

January 22, 2014



 

Will Your Doctor Refuse the Government EMR?

Intrusions sometimes surprise. I was at the doctor's office recently when into the exam room walked a physician assistant and a young man in a tee shirt pushing a computer on a waist-high rolling stand. This "scribe" was introduced to me, but no one asked me if it was okay for him to stay. As I answered questions he silently typed away, taking down every word.

 

Because of what I do, I needed to fully experience this intrusion. Next time I'll ask for privacy. I'll let you know what happens. If you have a "scribe story," please share it with me.

 

The New York Times recently discussed scribes, including a study showing 10 percent of patients uncomfortable with the presence of a scribe. Doctors are tired of being data-entry clerks for the government's computerized medical record system so they are now paying $20 - $25 an hour for a scribe. There are nearly 10,000 scribes working nationwide, listening in on private patient-doctor conversations - and recording everything.

 

I don't think doctors are thinking of it this way, but I'm reminded of Big Brother.

 

The intrusion is bipartisan. Blame Hillary Clinton, Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Congress, 2004 Executive Order 13335, 1965 Medicare, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, the Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and the HITECH Act within ARRA -- at least. Between them we have:

 

  • A new government agency to build a national medical records system (Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC))
  • Medicare payment penalties for physicians and hospitals that refuse to install government-certified interoperable electronic medical records (EMRs) by 2015
  • At least $27 billion for doctors and hospitals that use EMRs "meaningfully"
  • Physician "quality" reporting for Obamacare exchanges
  • No privacy, except in Minnesota and Iowa, which have stronger privacy laws. More than 2.2 million entities have access to your private medical record.

 

Doctors should refuse the government EMR. This may mean refusing to participate in all government and insurance contracts. Patients will have to learn the value of paying for care by cash, debit, check or charge and submit their own bills to insurers. More doctors are moving that direction. More doctors should. And patients should follow in droves.

 

But doctors may say ...

 

Continue reading...

 

 


 




News to Know:

Subsidies Upheld on Federal Exchange

A federal judge upheld the legality of premium subsidies on Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange. The plaintiffs in Halbig vs. Sebelius claim Obamacare allows subsidies only through the state-run exchanges (16 states and DC). If the judge had sided with the plaintiffs, the ruling would have dealt a near fatal blow to the ACA, making Obamacare coverage unaffordable for most. Halbig's attorneys have already filed a notice that they will appeal the ruling.



Obamacare Running Out of Money

Insurers pay a 3.5% fee on Obamacare premiums, but that's not enough, according to HHS's Gary Cohen. "I don't believe that fee will fully cover the cost of the federally facilitated marketplace...We are tapping resources from within our budget." Congress' new budget agreement provides no new funding for Obamacare. So, which slush fund will HHS pull from to get the $1.5 billion they say they need for exchange operations? (POLITICO Pro, Jan. 16, 2014)



Obamacare Exchanges = More Data Breaches

According to a new paper from Experian Data Breach Resolution, companies may see lower costs from data breaches in 2014, but breaches are not decreasing. Data breaches in the health care sector will likely see a significant increase in the coming year. According to Experian vice president Michael Brummer, there will be "a rise in healthcare breaches as a result of more vulnerability in the healthcare industry, particularly in light of Health Insurance Exchanges" (Bloomberg BNA, Jan. 9, 2014).



DNA 'Deep Dive' in Pennsylvania

Jumping on a trend that seemingly died out years ago, an up-and-coming biotechnology company is investing heavily in genomics. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals will sequence the DNA of 100,000 volunteers from Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health System in hopes of finding genetic variants that hold clues about drug development. According to Dr. Leslie G. Biesecker of the National Human Genome Research Institute, the project is the "largest clinical sequencing undertaking in this country so far, by a long shot."



Health Industry Sees Record Job Decline

For the first time in a decade, the health care sector has seen a decrease in jobs. According to the government's monthly jobs report, health care companies cut 6,000 jobs in December 2013, the first down month since July 2003. Nursing homes were hit the hardest, losing 3,900 jobs while the home health care industry took the next biggest loss, cutting 3,700 jobs.



FDA Campaign Against Dietary Supplements?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now accepting online reports for adverse effects of dietary supplements. Under federal law, those who produce and distribute dietary supplements must report serious side effects, but individuals can also voluntarily report. Interestingly, the FDA "encourages physicians, in  particular, to file voluntary reports when their patients have experienced adverse events" from dietary supplements. Not all doctors approve of supplements. Is the FDA seeking data to help them limit access?



Universal Mental Health Screening for Students?

The The Associated Press reviewed student mental health screening policies and found that despite HHS recommending "universal mental health screenings" for students, they still aren't required. Teachers in one Florida school district screen children including kindergarteners by using a short questionnaire. Some say there is reason for caution because "mass screenings will overdiagnose students and stigmatize them with a lifelong label."



Oregon Exchange an Embarrassment

If HealthCare.gov is a failure, then Oregon's state exchange, CoverOregon, is an unmitigated disaster. To date, the site has failed to enroll a single person due to massive technical issues that aren't improving. The site is such a sore subject, that when asked about it on a TV interview, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber walked out! Due to the continuing failures, the state may switch to the federal exchange. (POLITICO Pro, Jan. 14, 2014).



Americans Still Dislike Obamacare

Over three months into Obamacare, and the majority of Americans remain unhappy with the health care law. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports survey, 56% of Americans view Obamacare unfavorably, with 42% having a very unfavorable opinion of it. Apparently most Americans don't actually want to be told what they have to buy and how much they have to pay.



MN Insurance Agents Fleeing MNsure

Consumers aren't the only ones frustrated with MNsure. Minnesota's exchange has been so problematic that health insurance agents are choosing to avoid the site. According to a survey of 463 agents, by the end of 2013 nearly 53% of Minnesota insurance agents believed that MNsure was a partial or total failure. The survey reveals increasingly skeptical attitudes of agents towards Obamacare.



Taxpayers' Obamacare Bailout

There are two obscure provisions in Obamacare (Reinsurance and Risk Corridors) that ensure health insurers will be subsidized and bailed out by American taxpayers no matter what happens. For example, the "Reinsurance Program" puts a cap on what insurers have to pay with the government (taxpayers) paying the difference. This kind of public-private scheme reveals how much closer to "single-payer" Obamacare truly is.



Skimpy Coverage is Legal

If employers offer at least one ACA-compliant plan, they are allowed to offer bare-bones "mini-med" plans or "fixed-indemnity" plans penalty-free. These plans, which Obamacare was supposed to eliminate, pay fixed amounts for certain services and limit the amount of care available in a year. Although individuals who choose these plans may have to pay the "uninsured penalty" because the coverage isn't ACA-compliant, the penalty could be more affordable than premiums for approved policies. (Graphic: TMC/WSJ, 1/16/14)




Quote of the Week:



"If this provision were read literally, no "qualified individuals" would exist in the thirty-four states with federally-facilitated Exchanges, as none of these states is a "State that established [an] Exchange." The federal Exchanges would have no customers, and no purpose. Such a construction must be avoided, if at all possible." - U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton nominee, in his ruling on the lawsuit Halbig v. Sebelius, which challenged the legality of subsidies issued by the federal exchange.

 




Stat of the Week:

$1.5 billion - the amount in the 2014 HHS budget that Congress denied HHS for Obamacare HealthCare.gov building and operations. The administration claims it has flexibility to find the funds elsewhere. Last year, the Washington Post reported that Obamacare included only $1 billion for overall implementation, but the Congressional Budget Office estimated the agencies will need between $5 billion and $10 billion "to get the law up and running over the next decade."


 




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Worse Than England's Death Panels

Remember the Obamacare death panels? The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, created by Obamacare has no appointees yet. So nothing is happening. But as Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, once said the Board is a rationing board. But unlike the appeals committees in the British National Health Service that review individual funding requests, IPAB will make decisions on whole categories of treatment. 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
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St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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