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    Op-Ed at Christian Science Monitor: Senate health care bill: the five paragraphs you must read

    At the Christian Science Monitor, Sue Blevins (president of the Institute for Health Freedom in Washington) and Robin Kaigh (an attorney and medical-privacy advocate in New York) write about the US Senate health care bill that is currently under debate.

    What most of us know about the Democratic bill is that it requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance. What most of us don’t know is that it requires us to buy a minimum level of insurance approved by the federal government, and forces health plans and providers to share our personal health information with the federal government and other entities.

    If this bill becomes law, we could each be assigned a national beneficiary ID number or card (possibly an electronic device). And our personal health information will flow electronically to the US secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) – and many others – without our consent.

    Sound farfetched? Buried in the Senate bill’s 2,074 pages are provisions that actually permit and foster such things. Freedom and privacy are often lost in the fine print – which is why we’ve been studying the Senate bill since it was released Nov. 19 to help uncover the facts. Here are five highly invasive provisions Americans should know: […]

    2. ELECTRONIC DATA EXCHANGES

    Bill text: “Sec. 1104. Administrative Simplification…. (h) Compliance. – (1) Health Plan Certification. – (A) Eligibility for a Health Plan, Health Claim Status, Electronic Funds Transfers, Health Care Payment and Remittance Advice. – Not later than December 31, 2013, a health plan shall file a statement with the Secretary, in such form as the Secretary may require, certifying that the data and information systems for such plan are in compliance with any applicable standards (as described under paragraph (7) of section 1171) and associated operating rules (as described under paragraph (9) of such section) for electronic funds transfers, eligibility for a health plan, health claim status, and health care payment and remittance advice, respectively.”

    Translation: Requiring everyone to buy federally sanctioned health insurance, and then forcing qualified plans to comply with Administrative Simplification requirements, provides the government and health industry with power they would not be able to exercise in a free market. […]

    5. PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION

    Bill text: “Sec. 6301. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research…. (B) Use of Data. – The [Patient-Centered Outcomes Research] Institute shall only use data provided to the Institute under subparagraph (A) in accordance with laws and regulations governing the release and use of such data, including applicable confidentiality and privacy standards.”

    Translation: Think your health privacy is protected? It’s not. This language refers to “applicable confidentiality and privacy standards,” but HIPAA’s so-called privacy law permits individuals’ personal health information to be exchanged – for many broad purposes – without patients’ consent (See 45 CFR Subtitle A, Subpart E – Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information; section 164.502(a)(1)(ii) “Permitted uses and disclosures”).

    Bottom line: Trust is a must for ensuring quality healthcare. Thus, as stated above, Congress needs to pass a strong, ethical patient consent law that ensures patients have control over the flow of their personal health information.

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