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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

December 19, 2012

Why is Privacy Important to Freedom?

Obamacare uses data for control. The Obamacare health insurance exchange is an enormous federal data sharing system. The  "HUB," which I discussed last week is central to data-sharing. HHS will not only peek into private data. It will prowl. It will create "risk scores" on individuals. Consider how government surveillance has been used in history. In her 2011 essay, "State Terror: Stalin 1930 - 1938," Michele Roberts writes:

"The total control of the communications systems allowed Stalin to control the thoughts of the mass population simply by telling them only what he wanted them to know...The population did not have access to any information from outside the Soviet Union...The people believed Stalin when he told them that they were better off than they had been five years earlier, even though they were now starving, and perhaps living in a hallway under a staircase. The people were told that their lives would improve, and when their lives did not improve, they believed that the designated scapegoats were truly guilty of the charges leveled against them."

Health surveillance is coming. As a result of the 2009 Recovery Act's EHR requirements and  $27 billion to build a national health data system,  50% of U.S. providers use computerized electronic health records (EHRs). With apologies to Ms. Roberts, I've reworked her comments to describe our possible future under the data system:

The total control of patient data allows HHS to control the health care of the mass population simply by dictating to physicians only the services that HHS wants patients to receive....The population does not have access to the government directives coming from outside the exam room...The people believe HHS when it tells them that they were better off than they were five years earlier, even though they are now forced into managed care, denied medical treatment, and perhaps living a poorer quality of life. The people are told that their health care will improve, and when it does not improve, they believe that the designated scapegoats (doctors and hospitals) are truly guilty of the charges leveled against them by HHS and its health plans.

Continue Reading

News to Know:

Anti-Constitutional "Death Panel"

The "death panel" known as IPAB is worse than you think. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) "may be the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress," write Diane Cohen (Goldwater Institute) and Michael Cannon (Cato Institute). The authors say, "IPAB truly is independent, but in the worst sense of the word. It wields power independent of Congress, independent of the president, independent of the judiciary, and independent of the will of the people." The law says:

  • When the 15 unelected IPAB members submit a legislative proposal to Congress, it automatically becomes law (it must be implemented); 
  • Citizens cannot challenge the edicts in a court of law even though the Congress never agreed to or voted on them; 
  • The ACA only gives Congress a seven-month window in 2017 to repeal IPAB; 
  • If that window is missed, the law says Congress can NEVER repeal IPAB or alter an IPAB legislative proposal; 
  • the law potentially empowers just one person "to impose any tax or regulation, to appropriate funds, and to wield other lawmaking powers." 

Rebel States

Only 14 states and D.C. (per Dec 13 oral testimony by Gary Cohen, head of the federal ACA Exchange initiative) had agreed by December 14 to set up a state-based federally controlled exchange. Although the numbers vary, this leaves the federal government with the responsibility of setting up Exchanges in two-thirds of the states...if they can even do it. This is the same federal government that has no funds to build the Federal Exchange, that all but refuses to discuss the Federal Exchange, and that, despite a deadline only 10 months away, hasn't issued regulations on IT requirements for states to connect with the Exchange's intrusive federal data services HUB. As Politico Pro notes, Republican governors are "hoping the rebellion can do enough damage to the law to force the Obama administration back to the negotiating table." Repeal should be their goal. "ACA Health Insurance Exchanges - State Costs & Status" - NEW CCHF Chart

Health Data Seized for Ransom

In a sign of things to come as the U.S. advances large data systems like the Obamacare Exchange "HUB," cyber attackers hacked into, and using encryption, essentially  seized seven years of medical records at an Australian medical center. They want $4,000 AUD to release the patient medical records. The center is using a contractor to "try to decrypt or rebuild the files," reports Naked Security. However, the IT expert says "very sophisticated" military-grade encryption was used and the prospects are grim. Queensland Police have seen 11 such incidents of extortion in the past year. The attackers are from Eastern Europe looking for "rich targets" and individually identifiable data to extort. Earlier this month, U.S. based NovaStor reported a similar attack on a U.S. medical practice. Thankfully, the clinic had an offline backup.

Safety Risks of Computerized Medical Records

Last week, a  report found 89 percent (2,763 errors) of the 3,099 medical errors related to use of electronic health records resulted in no harm to patients. One event caused significant harm: "Patient with documented allergy to penicillin received ampicillin and went into shock, possible[sic] due to anaphylaxis..." Meanwhile, 10 percent (320 errors) caused "unsafe conditions" which did not result in harm and 15 reports caused temporary harm. The researchers advised further study of "EHR-related near misses and close calls." Most of the errors related to medications. The most common problems were "related to wrong input (47 percent), failure to update data (18 percent), and the system's default values (10 percent)." 

Health IT's "Cash for Clunkers"

This story is not new, but it is a good time for re-telling. Between 2011 and 2016, the feds will dole out $6.6 billion in "incentives" to push doctors and hospitals into interoperable (online, linkable) computerized medical records -- to use for tracking patients and doctors. Already $4 billion has been paid to 82,535 professionals and 1,474 hospitals. In May 2010, Jonathan Bush, chief executive of Athenahealth, complained  "It's health care information technology's version of cash-for-clunkers." A supporter of cloud technology, he also claimed, "Traditional health software now is on Medicare, being kept alive like grandma." Meanwhile, the HHS Inspector General recently reported the whole incentive program is " vulnerable to paying incentives to professionals and hospitals that do not fully meet" the incentive program's requirements.

Quotes of the Week:

"The fine print is so complex even the federal government struggles to understand it." -- Gary Alexander, Secretary, Department of public Welfare, testimony to U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Exchanges and Medicaid, December 13, 2012.

"While electronic health records will be the source of many improvements in the long run, in the short run it's clear they are not a panacea for patient safety problems," -- Bill Marella, program director for the Patient Safety Authority, regarding a new study on potential safety risks of electronic medical records and health IT.

"Is the patient a slab of meat to be efficiently cooked up in Atul Gawande's kitchen? Or is the patient a fully-realized human being with a complete range of emotions, abilities, resources, and support systems? The later qualities have enormous influence on outcomes and should be factored into any treatment plan." -- Greg Scandlen, posting on John Goodman's Health Policy Blog, December 14, 2012.

Stats of the Week:

29 - work hours many employees will be limited to due to Obamacare penalties.

31 - percent of Texas doctors accepting new Medicaid patients, down from 42% in 2010.

73% - federal debt in 2012 as a percent of gross national product, the "highest percentage in U.S. history except for a brief period during the shortly after World War II."

40% - federal debt in 2008 as a percent of gross national product.

$302.8 million - New York City Health and Hospitals EMR contract with Epic Systems.

News Release of the Week:

HHS Implements Tight Holiday Review Periods for Pending Regulations

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is petitioning the American public for comment on a total of six new regulations related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the ACA law. Two regulations have an adequate amount of time to read, understand, and comment on the proposed regulations, but four, including the 373-page the "Head Tax" rule that adds a monthly fee to all insurance premiums to cover the cost of individuals with pre-existing conditions, have only a 30-day window for public comment, and the timeframe falls over the winter holidays that include Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's. The four bills total nearly 750 pages of regulation, clearly a large amount to read, absorb, and understand in thirty days. Continue reading

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Slow Obamacare - Deadline Friday

Get a pen. You can help slow Obamacare. The deadline is Friday. [CLICK HERE TO ACT] The administration has proposed more than 700 pages of Obamacare rules, but they gave you only 30 days to respond. They donʼt want you to know what theyʼre up to. The Wall Street Journal says most of the rules were ready to go in MAY! But they waited until the holidays began...when they hoped you were too busy to act. You arenʼt. 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.

Reading Now...

"'Sorry' response cuts malpractice claims, legal costs," FierceHealthcare, 12/17/12.

"Congress Should Put Medicare Out of Its Misery Now," Sally Pipes, MedCity News.

"Boomers retiring to rural areas won't find doctors,"  Associated Press, Sept 2, 2012.

"Uncle Sam Has Swiped Your Medical 'Privacy,'" Lee Hieb, M.D., WorldNetDaily, December 18

"States Moving Forward to Implement the Health Care Law," HHS Sec. Sebelius in a blog posting saying states still have option to accept partnership model and claiming HHS is providing the guidance and resources states need to move forward (in direct opposition to what governor after governor is writing to HHS).

Letter to Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner asking for "unredacted versions" of documents related to contested IRS ruling on subsidies to be issued by the Federal Exchange, U.S. House, December 13, 2012.

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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