Monday, April 13, 2009

More Spendulus Fallout: EMR ASAP

As we've noted noted before, one of the little-publicized "gotcha's" in the Spendulus was this little gem:
Now, that sounds fairly benign, until one realizes that it's Washington, DC ('dah capital') in charge of processing that information. And by "processing," we mean "selling:"
[ed: the IHF is a not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank founded in 1996]
So-called "data sharing" has been around for a long time, of course (cf: "do not call list"), but this takes on a whole new meaning, perhaps an ominous one. After all, if the gummint is in charge of keeping and disseminating your information to health care providers, it's also able to sell that data to drug manufacturers, employers (and potential employers), anyone it chooses. On the one hand, that's a nice revenue stream (to offset some of Washington's other expenses), but at what cost?
Ms Blevins claims that "her goal is not to be alarmist." But why not? This is an alarming development. No, we're not talking black helicopters and tin-foil berets, but how easy would it be for this information to be abused? Or mishandled, or lost or stolen? The answer is probably "no more than if it was underatken by private industry." And that would be about right.
The problem is "accountability:" when private companies (e.g. credit card issuers, mortgage holders, etc) screw up, they're sued and fined. But one can't (easily) sue the government. And there's the rub: what good are assurances when there's no way to enforce them?
The question now is whether it's too late to derail this particular train.
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