Thursday, February 12, 2009

U.S. Stimulus Bill Pushes E-Health Records

(Very special thanks to the Doors)
-Happy Birthday Ray Manzarek-

The Stimulus Bill: E-Health Plan Benefits CEOs and Investors, Not the Public
-When the Music’s Over-

Keep moving, folks...nothing to see, here…except a further divide between rich and poor in these United States of Goldman Sa$hs. The music may be sweet to the ears of Friends of Obama, but the e-health plan is not your special friend, dear pleb.

For those who keep wondering why Obama has aggressively pushed billions of dollars of Stimulus Bill money on “investment in an e-health plan”, the answer is simple. Obama has friends and big plate campaign donors in the tech lobby who all will profit wildly off such a venture. Obama’s national health records system is costly, and he would like it very much if the plebs - instead of his venture capitalist pals and executives at Google Inc. and Microsoft, to name a few front row players - who would love nothing more than to get the government to pick up the tab for development costs.

Microsoft launched its Healthvault beta program in 2007 and has now partnered with Kaiser Permanente and the American Heart Association, among others, to create a database accessible by patients and authorized care providers. Earlier this year Google launched its own health records beta, Google Health.

But what will this daunting, on the down-low (DL) privacy invasive IT technology proposal with uncapped costs north of $25 billion do for Joe Taxpayer? Will it cure cancer? For all of these billions being shelled out to fund the lives of tech lobby elites in the private sector, wouldn’t Joe T. be better off with those funds applied to a national health care program instead?

Does Obama’s proposed e-health plan clearly outline how it will or if it will put the millions of unemployed and underemployed American IT and other technology professionals back to work? No. The bill as is benefits only CEOs and investors but has neither provisions to stop the practice of recruiting H-1B workers nor any mandate to hire American technology professionals for the jobs it states it will create. The tech lobby is one of Obama’s biggest fans and financial donors, so it comes as no surprise that they are all over the Stimulus Bill to get Joe Taxpayer to pick up the tab for privacy invasive health records technology. While Congress seems to be settling on $20 billion to $25 billion of stimulus money to “ improve health care technology”, it is estimated that this amount is only one half or a third of what a transition to e-health records would actually even cost. Once it is passed, Joe Taxpayer gets to cough up even more money to line the personal profits and pockets of this caste of Neo-Frat Boy elites while middle class Americans continue to lose jobs, access to healthcare and homes.

Under the guise of “improving healthcare” by developing poorly defined and convoluted, over-complicated snoopware referred to as a “health database” with all of your personal medical data, in actuality

“this databases will, "at a minimum," include information on every American's race and ethnicity. They will be used for "biosurveillance and public health" and "medical and clinical research," both of which raise privacy questions. They will become part of a "nationwide system for the electronic use and exchange of health information."

As yours truly has reported here and here, a few corporate fat-cats seek a large, super-size-me feed at the bailout trough for dubious technologies designed to increase the health of their personal bank accounts as opposed to the health of the taxpaying public. These corporate welfare queens want you, dear pleb, to pick up the tab for their output instead of the private sector, which claims that IT jobs will be created - but jobs for whom? This is the same pro-white collar job outsourcing lobby and their political enablers that are fighting to displace American white collar citizens and replace them with foreign H-1B visa workers. Despite the symbolic Grassley/Sanders proposal (S 306) to demand TARP fund recipients hire Americans, that effort is now under attack by the AILA and Chamber of Commerce. (h/t Rob Sanchez at

Declan McCullagh at CNet News also reports that one section of the e-health record’s “convoluted legislation” is touted to “radically reshape the nation's medical system by having the government establish computerized medical records that would follow each American from birth to death.”

Make no mistake – this stealth legislation that Obama has been aggressively pushing throughout his campaign but did not discuss at his press conference, is a payday giveaway to his tech lobby pals. McCullagh reports that billions will be given to corporations to create databases and to universities to incorporate patient databases "into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals." Remember, these are the same corporations and university think tanks who have decided that middle class white collar professionals should be labor arbitraged and replaced by cheap foreign labor.

With Obama’s e-health plan, privacy issues abound, and yet nowhere in the 140-page portion of the legislation does the government even remotely anticipate that some Americans might not want their medical histories electronically stored, shared, or searched. Although a single paragraph promises that data-sharing will "be voluntary," there's no obvious way to opt out.

Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy, explains

"Without those protections, Americans' electronic health records could be shared--without their consent--with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network."

Also noted is the full bore sales pitch by “ambitious” Democrats who have a job description all ready for their anticipated, yet to be designated Health Czar to preside over your shorts:

“The Democratic politicians pushing this bill have far-reaching ambitions. The legislation (PDF) (on page 244, for the curious) hands to a still-to-be-named health care bureaucrat the "goal of utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014." Selecting official standards will be left to the Department of Health and Human Services (page 265). Plus, the federal government will use its vast purchasing power--think Medicare and Medicaid--to compel adoption of e-records that meet government "standards and implementation specifications."

Sounds good? So where is Obama’s e-health plan anti-outsourcing provision in the Stimulus Bill that will protect American white collar professionals? So far, the Stimulus Bill looks like a grand slam for this administration’s “shovel ready” promise to turn our nation of white collar professionals into ditch diggers.

When the music’s over, turn out the light.



Citizen Carrie said...

Last night it occurred to me that every time the federal government had some sort of push for health IT in the past, it's been for very specific, obvious purposes. I can remember the big push for electronic claims submissions, and I vaguely remember something in the 1990's about HHS collecting all sorts of information in order to fight payment fraud. In retrospect, HIPAA was a giant boondoggle, but it least at that time, the issue of privacy for your personal health information made sense.

As far as I can tell, there's no real explanation for the push for "e-health records" except for the explanation that's geared for two-year olds, that computerized health records "will save money" and result in "better care".

If the issue is really about computerizing all of our health records in standard formats so they can not only be transmitted to any provider in the world but done so in such a way that the other provider can actually access the information, you'd think they'd be shouting this from the rooftops. The Obama administration is talking about this aspect a little bit, but not as much as one would think.

No one can really hide the fact that this is just some higher class swill at the public trough for the big corporations to feast on. Thanks for your investigative work, 2Truthy.

2Truthy said...

What's different this time is that we are in a depression and those past "very specific" mandates like e-claim submission/HHS payment fraud tech development from the
90's were undertaken during boom times relatave to what we now face: with almost fifty million people w/o health insurance and alarming rates of non-stop white collar unemployment/underemployment, most of the populaltion will soon be priced out altogether from affordable, accessable health care.

Sweetheart deal for tech lobby, just in time for Valentine's Day.

You gotta love this whole concept of forced e-health records nationalization in the stim -- sans, of course, any nationalized healthcare for U.S. citizens.

The final e-health plan stimulus mandates that by 2014, we will all have our very own e-health records (courtesy the usual tech lobby caste of characters like Bill Gates, Google & Friends) but nothing about access to healthcare.

The university/think-tank/corporate round robbin will be so fat and happy, too.

"...billions will be given to corporations to create databases and to universities to incorporate patient databases "into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals."

And which country's students might those be? Which online/international school programs might be pre-selected to take those jobs, courtesy this U.S. taxpayer subsidy?