Friday, May 29, 2009

Disaster Capitalism (Health Care Privacy Division)

It's spun as improving the efficiency in health care delivery. But this is trouble with a capital 'T.' Lawmakers in Washington have abrogated their responsibility to protect patients' privacy.

The stimulus package contains provisions on health information security that will expand HIPAA regulations to include consultants from outside the health care industry, such as lawyers and accountants. Speaking at a conference in Wisconsin, attorney Mark Garsombke explained that the provisions could force care providers to revise agreements with such professionals to address concerns regarding their exposure to personal health data.

Equally problematic is using the economic incentives to threaten cuts in Medicare services:
The stimulus package also includes Medicare incentive funding aimed at aiding adoption and use of EHRs. Beginning in 2011, health care providers may start to receive incentives for the use of EHR. This use, however, must meet the definition of “meaningful use” to qualify for payment. The final definition of “meaningful use” has yet to be worked out.

“Once a provider gets to 2015, its reimbursement will decline if electronic health records are not implemented and being used,” said Dan Miller, a Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek lawyer who participated the panel.

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