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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

May 21, 2014


Good Intentions Can Be Dangerous

Outsiders want to tie your doctor's hands with data. A new report says health care price transparency is urgently needed to reduce health care spending. Their intention seems good, however, the data is primarily for employers, doctors, health plans and policymakers to use to restrict your health care access and choice.


This ignores the true solution. The key to reducing spending is putting health care dollars in the hands of patients, who will suddenly care about the costs. But the West Health report instead proposes three "select interventions" that give outsiders greater access to price data so that costs - and care - can be restricted:


  1. Patient Tool: Require all private plans to provide enrollees with a price transparency tool - even though the report acknowledges most people will not use them.


  1. Physician Tool: Require that EHRs [electronic health records] provide price data to physicians when ordering laboratory and imaging services - so "the physician can consider resource costs at the point of order entry." West Health says studies show this kind of data leads to fewer services being ordered.


  1. Government Tool: Gather and report hospital-specific prices using state all-payer claims databases (APCD) - so employers "can use the price data to identify high-price providers and, with health plans, develop strategies to steer patients away from these providers." Besides explicitly interfering with choices, this intervention wrongly presumes all doctors have the same experience and expertise (ie. any neurosurgeon can do what Dr. Ben Carson did), no doctor should be paid more, and no doctor has more value to a patient than another.


The government database is key to their plan for control. The APCD is a government "tool to control healthcare costs through healthcare data collection," reports the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).


Thirteen states (CA, CO, KS, MN, TN, ME, MD, MA, NH, UT, VT, WA, WI) already have an APCD.  Five states are implementing it: CT, NY, RI, VA, and WV. But in a shocking admission, the NCSL says, "It is too early to determine whether all-payer claims databases can help states control costs."


Minnesota's APCD was a failure. Established in 2008, the state health department admitted failure in 2012. They could not generate accurate cost and quality profiles of doctors and hospitals.  But instead of repealing the system, the 2012 Republican-controlled legislature gave it a new Obamacare-related task in (risk-adjustment and individualized risk scoring) and the 2014 Democrat-controlled legislature "repurposed" the database to instead initiate a vast array of government research projects, including evaluation of a $45 million Obamacare State Innovation Model grant and analysis of "variations in health care costs, quality, utilization, and illness burden based on geographical areas or populations."


At every juncture, CCH Freedom has opposed the APCD, but too many politicians on both sides of the political aisle believe data-based tracking and control of medical decisions is the cure for health care.


Americans cannot depend on politicians or pundits to protect their rights, their choices or their lives. Donate $15, $75 or $150 today as CCH Freedom continues our campaign to inform Americans that they alone have the power to  regain control over life and death medical decisions by taking back their data and their dollars.


Standing with you for freedom,


Twila Brase

President and Co-founder




News to Know:

It's Not Over

Among these critical voters, Obama's job approval is a perilous 40 percent, and nearly half say they favor outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Sixty percent say they believe the debate over the law is not over, compared with 39 percent who echo the president's position and say the ACA debate has effectively concluded.

Drug Could Kill every Cancer Tumor

Scientists have discovered a possible " miracle drug" that promises to kill every kind of cancer tumor as it has done in all the trials in mice so far.  Stanford University researchers explained that the drug treatment works by blocking a protein (CD47) that essentially tells the body's immune system "do not eat," according to Science Magazine.  "Researchers have used the antibody in mice with human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors transplanted into them."

Let the Obamacare Taxing Begin in D.C.!

The District of Columbia will impose a new tax to help fund the shortfall in the implementation stage of their online health exchange because there are not enough paying customers signed up. The D.C. City Council approved a 1% tax as an "emergency" basis on more than $250 million in insurance premiums paid by D.C. residents and workers, but that could go up to a staggering 17 percent on every health plan sold on the exchange website.

Wearable Computers Should "Frighten Us"

Alex "Sandy" Pentland, director of the MIT Human Dynamics Lab, is known as the "Father of wearable computers" (like fitness trackers and Google glasses).  He warns unsuspecting users about data privacy concerns, specifically the metadata collected, which tracks precise location, time, and date sent and received.  It "should frighten us," he said.  For example, a Stanford University Ph.D. candidate found that even phone metadata could determine people suffering from specific health conditions.

Colorado's Vaccine Exemption Law Challenged

All states require children to be vaccinated against certain diseases before they enroll in school.  Exemptions for medical reasons and for religious and/or personal reasons are also allowed.  Between 2009-2012, bills to expand exemptions were filed in 31 state legislatures, but not one passed.  The Colorado legislature recently eliminated some parent rights from its previous vaccination exemption law but a requirement for mandatory doctor education was struck from the final version.

Health Care Startups Offer Digital "Concierge" Services

Digital health care companies are offering consumer-centered "concierge-like" health care services, such as basic access to medical advice, once reserved for the wealthy.  Their prices and services vary, but all seek to address gaps in the health care system, partly by using the Internet.  The trend toward digital medical records and information has led to a growing demand from consumers to control their own data and their access to doctors, and to be active in their own medical decisions.

Final ACA Enrollment Rates by State

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report shows state-by-state enrollment rates at the end of Obamacare open enrollment (3/31/14) based on each state's implementation of the Obamacare exchanges.  "The final enrollment figures reveal that the federally facilitated marketplaces [exchanges] and some of the troubled state-based ones made up some ground in the last four to six weeks of the open enrollment period," according to the report summary.

Hackers can easily steal your medical records!

Your medical records and data are not as private as you may think!  Consider a Connecticut woman who got a phone call from a scammer claiming to represent Yaz birth control and asked if she would like to join a class action lawsuit happening now.  He somehow knew that she took Yaz in 2001 and other details about her medical history.  Luckily, she didn't give him any money or information but called the police, who confirmed the scam.  

Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare in D.C. Court

On May 8, 2014, the second highest court in the U.S. heard a challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act based on the individual mandate requirement and new "tax" requirements.  The lawsuit, brought and argued by the public interest legal group, Pacific Legal Foundation, is supported by 20 states and presents three main arguments:

•    Obamacare is a huge tax bill
•    Tax bills must originate in the U.S. House
•    Obamacare originated in the U.S. Senate                         

Health IT Group: Send Your Employees to Obamacare

Gravie, a Minneapolis-based IT company, offers brokerage type services to individuals and employers to help them choose among hundreds of state health insurance options.  They have contracted with 49 companies and are gearing up for 2015 when the law mandates that most businesses offer qualified group coverage or pay a penalty tax.  For smaller employers, Gravie says that it will make financial sense for them to drop group coverage and send all of their employees to the state exchanges.

Data Mining Threatens Patient Control 

Through electronic medical records, researchers are gathering data from millions of patients' routine doctor visits in "data mining" expeditions. They say the data will help doctors improve diagnosis and treatment, but it can be used to obtain profitable research grants.  This "big data" research is supposed to protect patient privacy and anonymity, but the data is being used without patient consent and could be used for controversial "comparative effectiveness research" to ration care.  

Who Says What Care is "Low Value"?

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine identified at least 26 unnecessary tests or procedures with little or no clinical value that 1 in 4 Medicare patients received at a cost of almost $2 billion. Even with specific definitions, the researchers calculated that "9.1 million low-value services were provided in 2009, with 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receiving at least one. Those services cost Medicare $1.9 billion, or 0.6 percent of overall spending."

Do you "Like" your Privacy Shared Too?     

Watch what you "like" or share on Facebook! What individuals  post on social media sites about their health and lifestyles may be more accurate and honest than medical information shared with doctors and others who control our access to medical care. Researchers want to integrate social media data with medical data in our electronic medical records. One researcher has already written a paper called, "Facebook Likes: A New Source of Data for Public Health Surveillance," according to USA Today.

Scientists Tinker - Create Artificial DNA

Researchers have added two new letters to the natural genetic code by creating microbes containing artificial DNA.  Normal DNA uses up to 20 amino acids to produce proteins necessary for life. The breakthrough could lead to new medical treatments not available with today's biotechnology.  But there are dangers. A biochemist says a chemical additive was added to make it "much harder for the DNA to escape the lab and function in another organism," reports The Wall Street Journal.

Quote of the Week:

If the U.S. paid our $17.5 trillion debt back at the rate of $10 million every day seven days a week, it would take 4700 years! -- Dr. Ben Carson, M.D., at Minneapolis event explaining how to comprehend U.S. debt.

Stat of the Week:

1,691,170 - number of individuals who refused to reveal their race and ethnicity when they selected Obamacare coverage on the federal exchange.

HHS says the 31.1 percent of non-response is "higher than in survey data" where only 3-5% have missing information and where "federal statistical agencies generally impute race and ethnicity gaps in survey data" -- even though studies examining health plans administrative data have "found that race and ethnicity data does not match self-reported data" (p. 25-26). Race information in the Medicare Enrollment Database was correct only 29.5 percent for people who self-reported as Hispanic. HHS notes privacy may be an issue in refusing to report. Validity of HHS claims on race and ethnicity may be at issue as well.

News Release of the Week:

Speak Out Against the Government's Biosurveillance Plan for Warehousing Americans' Health Information

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It seems that every American is trackable in today's hyper-technical society - via our cell phones and tablets, by purchases we make and through web sites we visit. But the government is planning a new way to keep tabs on all Americans - through a sneaky biosurveillance plan that will track American's health records. Continue reading

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Obamacare Consolidation Means Higher Prices

President Obama has said Obamacare will bend the cost curve down. This is a well-constructed lie. The law is designed to consolidate the health care system into a few players. The fewer the players, the less the competition and the higher the prices. 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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