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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

June 6, 2012

Letter from CCHF's President

Will Government put you on a diet? This is no longer a silly question. New York City is planning to  restrict the size of sodas and other sugary drinks sold in restaurants, movie theaters, delis, sports arenas and any other "food service establishment." If approved by the Board of Health, such drinks could not be sold in cups larger than 16 ounces.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a  fan of donuts, counters opponents, "Your argument, I guess, could be that it's a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32-ounce...I don't think you can make the case that we're taking things away."

Yes we can. What is being taken away is the right to buy and sell a legal beverage in whatever size container one wants to buy and sell it. What's being taken away is individual freedom guaranteed under law by the U.S. Constitution. Hopefully somebody sues.

The food police are everywhere. Staffers at Minneapolis Park and Recreations have proposed  restrictions on food served in parks. They want only whole wheat pizza crusts and pretzels. Melted cheese for chips or pretzels would be prohibited. Brownies could be no larger than 2 inches by 2 inches. Juice servings would be limited to 8 ounces, and there could be no hot dogs. On May 16, the Park Board sent the proposal back for revision.

The overweight have become the targeted. No doubt, some are walking around feeling like objects of derision, giving them another reason to eat and hide. Eating is complex behavior, and  food bans don't work to cure obesity. This campaign against the overweight unfortunately reminds me of the troubling Holocaust Museum against the disabled.

Our freedom is at stake. How oppressive could this "healthy weight for all" campaign become? The day may come when companies are required to install gyms, companies are required to report employee use, and employees are required to weigh in. A voluntary version of this is  already authorized under Obamacare

Section 4303 says, ''...the Director shall - (1) provide employers (including small, medium, and large employers, as determined by the Director) with technical assistance, consultation, tools, and other resources in evaluating such employers' employer-based wellness programs, including - (A) measuring the participation and methods to increase participation of employees in such programs..."

HBO says, "Obesity is the  biggest threat to the health, welfare and future of this country." However, as we all know, with terrorists plotting nefarious acts against America, personal weight gain is clearly not our biggest threat. But government restricting personal freedom under the guise of "public health" may come close.

Now on to the news . . .

News to Know:

Romney Provides Huge Clue

Do you want to know where Mitt Romney stands on health care? Look at who he picked to run his transition team if he's elected.  Romney selected Michael Leavitt, former governor of Utah, who could then become his chief of staff. The only two government health insurance exchanges established before Obamacare were put in place under Gov. Romney in Massachusetts and Gov. Leavitt in Utah. Leavitt went on to found a business called Leavitt Partners, which doubled in size after Obamacare passed. The firm has a  "Health Insurance Exchange Intelligence Team" of six people galavanting around the country trying to get state legislatures to install Obama's exchanges "federal takeover centers," including  Joel Ario, former director of the Office of Insurance Exchanges under President Obama. 

Mr. Leavitt has also made positive comments about Obamacare, saying that it empowers the HHS secretary "to do certain things that are clearly aimed in trying to move us in the right direction." ( Politico Pulse, 6/4) No doubt his ballooning bank account shapes his opinion. But as Michael Cannon from Cato Institute has remarked, "These Exchanges...are the government bureaucracies that will make health insurance more expensive, induce employers to drop coverage, entrench Obamacare and dole out hundreds of billions of debt-financed government subsidies to insurance companies." Yes, and they'll lead to nationalized health care too.

Limbo-Land for Medicare Patients

A new study comes from the land of unintended consequences. The Brown University study in Health Affairs found a sharp increase in the number of  Medicare patients placed on "observation status" for further evaluation and short term treatment. Observation care is financed by Medicare Part B (doctors/clinics) rather than Medicare Part A (hospitalization), meaning patients are responsible for a greater share of the cost of their care if they are not admitted to the hospital. Observation stays are not counted as admissions.

From 2007 - 2009, the number of observation stays increased 25% as admissions decreased. Nearly one million Medicare recipients were being held, some as long as 72 hours. Furthermore, if the patient went from observation to a nursing home, Medicare did not cover the cost of nursing home care. Medicare only covers the cost of nursing home care after hospitalization. A congressional briefing has already been held and a class action lawsuit has been filed. Expect this problem to increase. Under Obamacare, hospitals with higher-than-expected readmission rates will be penalized ( Section 3025).

Hospitals to Profile Neighborhoods?

"Hospitals need to accept they are no longer just places to care for sick patients," according to Aegis CEO Pearson Talbert's in his six tips for hospitals to improve population health management. He says hospitals need to focus on population health management to better understand "risk aggregation." Under Obamacare's Accountable Care Organizations model, "physicians and hospitals may receive a bundled payment for caring for a given number of people. Knowing the risks of that population's health is crucial to cutting costs and delivering quality care."

Mr Talbert says one way for hospitals to pinpoint population health concerns is through data aggregation, which means  creating health profiles of all potential hospital consumers." Mr. Talbert's company, Aegis, created a personal health profile that collects personal health information from employees of target businesses. Client hospitals can then access the information through Aegis' database." This "allows the hospital to look at the [aggregated] data and see health concerns within their population."

Busting the "Pay for Performance" Myth

Republicans and Democrats have put their faith in performance measures to cut costs in Medicare. But a leading expert has expressed doubt about the Medicare pay-for-performance (P4P) system. According to the BNA Health Care Policy Report (6/4/12), Robert Berenson at the Urban Institute said there are 600 performance measurements but serious questions as to whether they can predict health outcomes of patients. Citing several recent studies showing otherwise (e.g.  201020112012), he said, "There is increasing doubt that process measures predict outcome, especially mortality...." "Less tangible' attributes of hospitals, such as culture and leadership, affect patient outcomes more than "very specific protocols," he said. He also said measurement "does not demonstrate effectiveness."

He quotes Albert Einstein, "Not everything that can be counted counts." This is good advice for all those who say, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." One wonders how we ever achieved medical greatness without government performance measurement getting in the way. One wonders how we'll ever keep it unless we throw out such measurement. P4P emerged in HillaryCare, became law in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (Sen. Norm Coleman amendment), and was expanded in Obamacare. P4P is government control of physicians under the guise of "quality" measurement. Meanwhile individualized patient care loses out to the tyranny of paperwork and the government-standardized care of P4P treatment protocols.

Stats of the Week:

13.5 million - number of individuals covered by HSA-compatible high deductible plans.
2 million - total enrollment growth since the 2011 Census by AHIP.
$206 - $470 - low to high range nationwide for single coverage premiums.
$423 - $1,201 - low to high range nationwide for family coverage premiums.

News Release of the Week:

Nationwide Health Information Network Governance in the Works; Public has One Week Left to Comment

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With three weeks left for the public to comment to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) about potential governance mechanisms for the proposed Nationwide Health Information Network, the Citizens Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) is encouraging all Americans to act in opposition to the nationwide network.

Much of the ONC's request for information revolves around "conditions for trusted exchange" (CTE) of information. Since the nationwide network is actually a network of smaller networks that all share information with one another, governance is being determined to outline when and how networks and medical facilities can share private medical information with others. CTE ultimately reduces patient privacy and makes it far easier to share private, electronic health information, many times without the patient's knowledge.   Continue reading

UPDATE: Deadline extended to Friday, June 29

Action Item:

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Three Weeks Left to Comment!

The federal government is building a national health surveillance system. Health regulators want your comments on its governance.The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the 2009 Recovery Act ("economic stimulus"), requires the feds to "establish a governance mechanism for the nationwide health information network" (NwHIN). The HHS   "request for information" seeks your comments. 

Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 29

Submit Comments:

Enter Search Code: HHS-OS-2012-0006

Action Suggestion:

Go online and offer a PERSONALIZED version of the following sample responses to at least two questions from the   "request for information"NOTE: non-original, fully standardized responses are often ignored. 

Sample Response to Question 2 (p. 26): I do not support the creation of a Nationwide Health Information Network, or placement of my data into the network without my informed written consent. Such an action is a violation of my 4th and 5th Amendment privacy rights.

Sample Response to Question 27 (p. 42): If the NwHIN is created despite my objection, I support an opt-in approach. I support opt-in consent requirements for both placement of my data in the NwHIN and exchange of my data by the NwHIN. I oppose the three exceptions to consent proposed on page 41. Without exception, there should be no exchange, no storage and no use of my data without my consent.

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

The 3 C Solution

Dr. Lee Hieb, an orthopedic surgeon and Past-President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, tells Fox Newsʼ John Stossel that the answer to health care is three Cʼs. 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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