Told 'ya it was a bad idea...

by MICHELLE MALKIN October 23, 2015 12:00 AM @MICHELLEMALKIN Hey, who’s up for a stiff dose of “See, I told you so?” For the past several years, medical professionals have warned that the federal electronic-medical-records mandate — buried in the trillion-dollar Obama stimulus of 2009 — would do more harm than good. Their diagnosis, unfortunately, is on the nose. The Quack-in-Chief peddled his tech-centric elixir as a cost-saving miracle. “This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests,” he crowed at the time. In theory, of course, modernizing record-collection is a good idea, which many private health-care providers had already adopted before the Healer of All Things took office. But in the clumsy, power-grabbing hands of Washington bureaucrats, Obama’s one-size-fits-all EMR regulations have morphed into what one expert called “health-care information technology’s version of cash-for-clunkers.” 

RELATED: Thousands of Obamacare Enrollees Lose Their Plans, Again I reported in 2012 how my own primary-care physician quit her regular practice and converted to “concierge care” because of the meddlesome EMR burden. Untold numbers of docs across the country have done the same. In 2013, health-care analysts at the RAND Corporation admitted that their cost-savings predictions of $81 billion a year were vastly inflated. In 2014, RAND researchers interviewed doctors who spotlighted “important negative effects” of the EMR mandate on “their professional lives and, in some troubling ways, on patient care. They described poor EHR usability that did not match clinical workflows, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, and overwhelming numbers of electronic messages and alerts.” And the hits keep coming.

Robert Wachter, author of the recently published The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, chronicled the damage he’s witnessed: “Physicians retiring early. Small practices bankrupted by up-front expenses or locked into ineffective systems by the prohibitive cost of switching. Hours consumed by onerous data entry unrelated to patient care. Workflow disruptions. And above all, massive intrusions on our patient relationships.” RELATED: The Simple Way to Repeal Obamacare The American Medical Association, which foolishly backed Obamacare, is now balking at top-down government intrusion into its profession. Better late than never. The group launched a campaign called “Break the Red Tape” this summer to pressure D.C. to pause the new medical-record rules as an estimated 250,000 physicians face fines totaling $200 million a year for failing to comply with “meaningful use” EMR requirements. In Massachusetts last month, physicians decried the failure to achieve true “interoperability” between EMR systems despite a $30 billion federal investment through the Obama stimulus. Dr. Dennis Dimitri, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, noted at a rancor-filled town hall that the mandate has “added significant time to the daily life of most physicians in their practices,” WBUR reported. “It has not necessarily lived up to expectations in terms of its ability to provide cues to physicians to make sure that necessary treatments are not being missed. It has certainly not been able to swiftly disseminate information from one clinical setting to another.”

RELATED: Conservatives: Stop Enabling Obamacare That’s in no small part due to the cronyism embedded in the federal stimulus “incentives” — a massive chunk of which the White House doled out to behemoth EMR company Epic Systems, headed by Obama crony Judith Faulkner. As I’ve noted repeatedly in this column the past three years, Epic continues to be plagued by both industry and provider complaints about the failure of its creaky, closed-end system and exorbitant fee structure to enable the very kind of interoperability the Obama EMR mandate was supposed to ensure.

 ​Now, even left-wing Mother Jones magazine reports this week that “instead of ushering in a new age of secure and easily accessible medical files, Epic has helped create a fragmented system that leaves doctors unable to trade information across practices or hospitals. That hurts patients who can’t be assured that their records — drug allergies, test results, X-rays — will be available to the doctors who need to see them. This is especially important for patients with lengthy and complicated health histories.” The Obama White House has responded by doubling down on its destructive EMR rules that punish both patients and providers. Congress must intervene. Representative Steve King (R., Iowa), introduced a bill Thursday to repeal the draconian penalties “so that providers can get back to the business they are uniquely trained to do — utilizing their skills and knowledge to heal the sick and support the continued vitality of the healthy.” Prescription: Butt out, Washington. Primum non nocere. — Michelle Malkin is author of the book Who Built That: Awe-Inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs. Her e-mail address is Copyright © 2015

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What was the real reason that the administration was all hellbent on getting all your medical records recorded electronically?

Just wait for some bureaucrat to look through your medical records, your tax records, and whatever else they want to find out about you.  Not possible?  Just ask Congressman Chaffetz about that.

And hackers?

Oh my...

No, Your Medical Records Are Not Private

Many Americans think the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects their medical privacy, but federal bureaucrats issue thousands of subpoenas every year without prior judicial approval to get around the law.
“If you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy against government in your medical care, then where does it exist at all? If that’s not private, then what is?” Adam Bates, a criminal justice policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Congress passed HIPAA in 1996 with a promise that it would clamp down on waste, fraud and abuse in the health care industry and safeguard patient privacy. But HIPAA allows federal bureaucrats to get patient records merely by issuing administrative subpoenas, or civil investigative demands.
These bureaucratic edicts bypass the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that a judge must give prior approval before government can search or take an individual’s property. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice (DOJ) thus have access to any records they believe to be “relevant” in cases of alleged health care fraud.
“The subpoenas are so broad that they almost always will include patient records,” David Douglass, a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton law firm which represents health care providers also told TheDCNF.
The DOJ issued 2,102 administrative subpoenas in 2001 over suspected health care offenses, according to a 2002 DOJ report. That doesn’t include subpoenas issued by other agencies, like the HHS IG. Nobody knows how many administrative subpoenas are issued annually now because the 2002 report was the last time an official count was done.
But lawyers representing medical care providers constantly deal with administrative subpoenas.
“I do think it raises constitutional challenges,” said Robert Rhoad to TheDCNF. Rhoad is a former Navy JAG Corps lawyer who’s now a partner at Crowell & Moring law firm.
Federal officials in most cases can also share records, including patient records, with whistleblowers, called relators, and their lawyers, whether or not the government ultimately decides to pursue criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.
“Everybody’s got horror stories for what happens when the relators get into their stuff,” said Jonathan Diesenhaus, a former DOJ senior trial lawyer who now represents health care companies as a partner with the Hogan Lovells law firm, to TheDCNF. “It becomes an avenue for abuse.”
Congress passed HIPAA amid reports of increasing Medicare fraud, but the legislation also provided for first time ever specific authorization for judgeless administrative subpoenas to be used in criminal law enforcement pursuits.
“Mentioning privacy, the Justice Department can get medical records, patient bills,” Diesenhaus said. “Just like an administrative subpoena, these civil investigative demands fall into the federal program oversight exception to the HIPAA statue.”
“So, patient records protections that apply and require courts to say ‘yes, you can look at those records’ in other contexts, and that imposed significant penalties for even government people who released them, those rules don’t apply with the IG or if the Department of Justice asks for patient records,” Diesenhaus said.
Federal officials use patient records to determine whether a health care provider, drug company or patient gamed the system, “and there is no judicial oversight,” Diesenhaus said.
“But I would imagine people don’t understand in this world of heightened sensitivity to privacy issues — I don’t know that people understand that these government agencies when looking into billing fraud get raw medical records and raw billing records and look and see what the diagnosis is,” Diesenhaus said.
Spokesmen for DOJ and the HHS IG did not respond to TheDCNF requests for comment.
Health care lawyers said judgeless subpoenas in health care investigations became more prevalent after passage of the 2009 Fraud Enforcement And Recovery Act, which amends the False Claims Act — the main law allowing for fraud recovery. The 2009 law extended the authority to issue administrative subpoenas from the attorneygGeneral to 93 U.S. attorneys.
Four years later, in 2012, the DOJ announced its largest ever four-year recovery rate under the False Claims Act — $13.3 billion.
“With respect to civil investigative demands and administrative subpoenas, there has been a sharp uptick in the issuance of those in the last few years,” Rhoad said.
Administrative subpoenas have all but replaced the grand jury, Douglass said.
“When this administrative subpoena power was granted, it became more common for the government to issue administrative subpoenas than grand jury subpoenas,” Douglass said. “So the administrative subpoena is a much lower (legal) bar to issue and the government has much broader authority to use it.”
A federal judge recently ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration can access patient records after a medical office in Dallas challenged DEA’s demands.
Most businesses don’t challenge subpoenas in court. The success rate isn’t great for the few that do. “Part of it is you want to show you’re cooperative and don’t have anything to hide,” Rhoad said.
Administrative subpoenas are tough to fight, as Congress has issued agencies broad authority through the years. Courts historically are deferential to the government, the 2002 DOJ report said.
“I absolutely think companies capitulate rather than fight,” said Douglass.
Companies also have to take into account an agency’s authority to retaliate in the future.
“The thing is that the government, and HHS in particular, they hold a lot of administrative remedies in their pocket that they can exercise relatively freely,” Rhoad said. “And if you’re a health care provider, the death penalty for you is to be excluded from federal health care programs.”
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