The Right Opinion

Obama's Electronic Medical Records Scam

By Michelle Malkin · Dec. 14, 2012

Here’s more evidence that government “cures” are inevitably worse than the “diseases” they seek to wipe out. Buried in the trillion-dollar stimulus law of 2009 was an electronic medical records “incentive” program. Like most of President Obama’s health care rules, this top-down electronic record-sharing scheme is a big fat bust.

Oversight is lax. Cronyism is rife. The job-killing and privacy-undermining consequences have only just begun.

The program was originally sold as a cost-saving measure. In theory, modernizing record-collection is a good idea, and many private health care providers have already made the change. But as with many government “incentive” programs, the EMR bribe is a tax-subsidized, one-size-fits-all mandate. This one pressures health care professionals and hospitals across the country into radically federalizing their patient data and opening up medical information to untold abuse. Penalties kick in for any provider that hasn’t switched over by 2014.

So, what’s it to you? Well, $4 billion has already gone out to 82,535 professionals and 1,474 hospitals, and a total of $6 billion will be doled out by 2016. But the feds' reckless profligacy, neglect and favoritism have done more harm than good.

Don’t take my word for it. A recent report released by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General acknowledged that the incentive system is “vulnerable to paying incentives to professionals and hospitals that do not fully meet” the program’s quality assurance requirements. The federal health bureaucracy “has not implemented strong prepayment safeguards, and its ability to safeguard incentive payments postpayment is also limited,” the IG concluded.

Translation: No one is actually verifying whether the transition from paper to electronic is improving patient outcomes and health services. No one is actually guarding against GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). No one is checking whether recipients of the EMR incentives are receiving money redundantly (e.g., raking in payments when they’ve already converted to electronic records). No one is actually protecting private data from fraud, abuse or exploitation.

Little is being done to recoup ill-gotten payments. In any case, such “pay and chase” policing after the fact is a crummy way to run government in lean times – or in fat times, for that matter.

As for the claim that the EMR conversion will reduce paperwork, many doctors say the reality is just the opposite. In Greensboro, N.C., Dr. Richard Aronson told local TV station FOX 8 that the mandate doubled the amount of paperwork in his private practice. Everyone from optometrists to general practitioners to chiropractors to podiatrists must divert precious time and resources to conforming with Washington health bureaucrats' imposed vision. Some medical professionals are now warning that the dangerous phenomenon of “distracted doctoring” is on the rise as a result of data-driven imperatives that direct health care providers' attention away from their patients and onto their screens and hand-held devices.

You know who is benefiting from the initiative? Put on your shocked faces: Obama donors and cronies.

Billionaire Judith Faulkner, Obama’s medical information czar and a major Democratic contributor, just happens to be the founder and CEO of Epic Systems – a medical software company that stores nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population’s health data. Another billion-dollar patient-record database grant program has doled out money to the University of Chicago Medical Center (where first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett both served in high-paid positions). As I’ve previously reported, these administration grants circumvent any and all congressional deliberation as part of Team Obama’s election-year “We Can’t Wait” initiatives.

Even as the White House touted the move toward gee-whiz 21st-century electronic databases, health care professionals in the know have debunked that claim, too. Companies like Faulkner’s, which lobbied loudest for the mandates and “incentives,” represent traditional hard drive-dependent software firms that are already dated. As Athenahealth Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush, who advocates cloud-computing alternatives, put it: The Obama electronic records mandate is “healthcare information technology’s version of cash-for-clunkers.”

Then there’s the still-growing and untold number of doctors nationwide who are closing up shop or limiting their practices and converting to “concierge care” to escape this and myriad other Obamacare intrusions. My own primary care physician in Colorado Springs quit her regular practice and converted to “concierge care” because of the EMR imposition. Creve Coeur, Mo., doctor Shari Cohen made the same move.

“The demands of caring for my patients while navigating through the current health care delivery systems dictated that I take more and more time away from patient care and spend an increasing part of my day on the system itself,” she told the Creve Couer Patch. “Electronic Medical Records was the final shove for me. It added another whole layer in interference in the doctor-patient relationship and one I was not sure I wanted to take on.”

More paperwork. More waste. Less accountability. Less care. Government malpractice at work.



Robert in NEW Mexico said:

How about an investigation into where congressmen (and women) have invested their money. I'm willing to bet that most of the dems and quite few repubs have money in medical software companies. This way they can transfer money from the treasury to themselves.

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Robert, you mean politicians are crooks, I am shocked, shocked.

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

Howard, pal, I have some property in downtown Washington called The Mall. I can sell it to you real cheap. Give me a call.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Rod in USA replied:

Of course you simly MUST be kidding. I mean *really*! They passed the congressional insider trading laws/rules a while back. So of course this cannot possibly be happening.

Hahahaha. We must be stupid to trust the henhouse to the foxes. Of course they wrote the rules and of course it was all for show without really preventing any of them from enriching themselves.

Who thinks it normal for a person spends millions of dollars for a job that pays them a two year term for $250K a year? Please. I have stuff you might be interested in buying.

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 1:10 PM

pete in CA replied:

Robert, you may remember a few years ago when news broke that out Congress, in their effort to be "fair" to the American people, passed a resolution that members will no longer use information found in bills under discussion in Congress in order to personally benefit by buying stock in effected corporations, companies, or sectors more than 30 days before the bill comes up for vote.

In other words, until they passed this resolution they could delay, impede, and in any other way, slow down the process of passing a bill so they and their family members could load up - or unload, if that were the case - shares in businesses that would be directly effected for years on end before legislation was passed.

Also note, this is a 'resolution,' not a law, rule, or regulation. That's basically a promise from a politician.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Just another example of the government interfering with the private sector. It's also another way to gain more information about our personal lives. That gives the government all the knowledge it needs to access your medical records, bank accounts, etc. The "benovelent" government that wants to control every aspect of your life. "BIG BROTHER KNOWS BEST"

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM

JAC in Texas said:

Actual salaries are much lower, which gives rise to even more pointed questions as to how they get so rich (yes, we actually know how).

Senators & Representatives: $174,000
Senate President Pro Temp: $193,400
Senate Majority & Minority Leader: $193,400
House Majority & Minority Leader: $193,400
Speaker of the House: $223,500

President: $400,000
Vice President: $230,700
Cabinet Officers: $199,700

The President also gets a $50,000 official expense allowance. Makes you wonder who pays for the other millions the President and his family have spent over the years. Oh, yeah, it's you and me!

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Tyrone in Cleveland said:

The only way to begin addressing the blatant fiscal dishonesty in DC is to "drain the swamp" i.e. bring the tax revenues back to the local and state treasuries where ther is some degree of oversight and accountability. Give DC only enough to meet its core obligations under the Constitution. Not a penny more.
A good beginning will be a flat federal income tax and (loser pays) tort reform. Approximately 80% of the bureaucracy and lobbyists will disappear almost immediately.
DC is chock full of incompetence and crooks. We must take and keep their toys away, as the Founders originally intended.

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Orf in Pittsburgh said:

As a physician myself, already partially retired, I will be completely retired when Obamacare starts affecting what I do. At least I will be retired officially as far as government is concerned. One should never really retire except for health reasons. And there should be a lot of health reasons in the future as Obummercare kicks in fully. As Scrooge would say at this time of year, "It helps to reduce the surplus population if they die early." I am thinking of telling those patients who voted for Obamacare to find another doctor.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

Hey Dr. Orf, pal, you've got it all wrong. Government health care is terrific. I can go to the doctor anytime I want and I don't pay a thing. It's great! It's free, too. I don't pay a cent.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:27 PM