A newly announced initiative by the Department of Health and Human Services will incorporate “social and behavioral measures” into our health records, then make this information available to “…public health departments, social service agencies, or other relevant non-health care organizations and case studies…”
The information will be collected by our physicians and included in our government approved Electronic Health Record, subsequently uploaded to the ObamaCare central data-hub as part of our permanent medical history.
The project sets out to identify “core data standards for behavioral and social determinants of health to be included in EHRs.”
This sort of intrusion is disquieting on its own, but becomes exponentially so when one considers the purpose behind the collection of such subjective and easily misinterpreted data.
As a part of the Obama Stimulus bill, the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been incentivizing physicians and hospitals since 2009 to gather and report all manner of data regarding their patients through the adoption and increasing use of EHRs (Electronic Health Records.)
Health care professionals who began participating in the program in 2011 or 2012 can receive as much as $44,000 for using EHRs for Medicare and $63,750 for Medicaid over 5 and 6 years, respectively.
Though the program is “totally voluntary,” eligible professionals who are not using EHRs by 2015 will see a 1 percent reduction in their Medicare and Medicaid fees each year.
As with most government initiatives, the carrots quickly become sticks when “voluntary” participation lags.
But why collect behavioral and social data in the first place? Is it not already clear to even the least informed that certain behaviors – such as alcoholism – will lead to a rather predictable set of physical ailments? In any case, the physician treating the patient is the person with the real “need-to-know,” not a faceless bureaucracy far removed from the clinic or hospital ward. So why collect the data on a national scale?
To grasp the significance of this, it is important to understand the progenitors of ObamaCare and the approach to medicine they advocate.
Dr. Donald Berwick was recess appointed to be the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Obama’s first term. The President deliberately sidestepped the confirmation process with full understanding that the good Dr. Berwick wouldn’t have survived the first hour of questioning.
I have written previously about Dr. Berwick and his relationship with the British National Health Service rationing board, known as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
From the article titled “IPAB is NICE” –
In Britain, one assessment used by NICE in their cost-benefit rationale is the concept of "social usefulness." A necessarily subjective and entirely corrupt political calculation, social usefulness is nonetheless a significant factor in determining eligibility for life-saving or live-extending treatments in Britain. NICE is absolutely a rationing board. They don't deny it -- indeed, they celebrate their self-described "grown-up" treatment of the subject matter while simultaneously hiding behind the fig leaf of "citizen input" and "stakeholder consensus" when deciding who lives and who isn't worthy to draw another breath.
Dr. Donald Berwick, the recess-appointed head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services here in the United States, knows a thing or two about NICE. He was its architect.
Berwick's think-tank, the Commonwealth Fund, is the leading apologist for single-payer health care in the United States and has long advocated installing our own version of NICE. IPAB [Independent Payment Advisory Board] will operate as an arm of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Who better to direct and build a second Frankenstein's monster than Dr. Frankenstein himself? We need only look to Britain to see the failed model the Obama administration has imported.
This is why social and behavioral data is necessary to the implementation and operation of ObamaCare. To utilize the formulaic “tick-box” method of resource allocation invented and propagated by another of Obama’s inner circle, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one must have reliable metrics of behavioral risk and societal usefulness.
Dr. Emanuel’s name may appear familiar to you, likely because of his more famous brother, Rahm Emanuel, the current Mayor of Chicago and former Obama Chief of Staff.
Dr. Emanuel co-wrote a book titled “Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources,” which, while originally touted as a method of determining recipient order for life-saving transplants and the like, it has become the rationer’s bible; its formulae increasingly applied to the most routine of treatment regimes.
This hierarchy of “care-worthiness” is the backbone of ObamaCare. It is the animating principle of statist, collectivist medicine, and the catalyst for the tragedy and horror that inevitably follows.
In 2010 I wrote of a circumstance in the British National Health Service (NHS) involving one of their hospitals, the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital Trust. More than 1200 people died as a direct result of malevolent neglect and criminal incompetence in one hospital alone. A full accounting of the squalid conditions that led to those deaths may be found here.
Aside from pulling back the curtain on our own futures under ObamaCare, why do I mention the horror of Mid-Staffordshire?
The NHS, struggling mightily to regain the confidence of the British people after the shocking revelations revealed in the Mid-Staffordshire affair, recently solicited a study and report on how similar incidents may be avoided in the future. They needed to convince a wary public that these appalling events were an aberration, not at all indicative of the NHS system as a whole.
The NHS turned to an old friend, a trusted advisor and unfailing advocate. The man who once described the single-payer socialized system in Britain as a “globally important treasure.” They turned to the man who designed their system of rationing…the same man who is designing ours here in America. They turned to Dr. Donald Berwick.
Mid-Staffordshire was indeed not an aberration, but rather stands as a bellwether to the systemic rot that has hollowed out the practice of medicine in Great Britain.
Berwick’s report absolved the system of wrongdoing, suggesting that while mistakes may have been made, they occurred in an environment where only the best of intentions informed the decision-making, and sometimes outcomes don’t always meet expectations.
It’s one thing to give style points on an essay, but quite another to reckon intentions as equal to results, especially when lives are at stake. Welcome to the Brave New World of collectivist medicine, that has such people in it.
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