In The Age Of Obamacare Will Your Medical Information Be Used Against You?

Since the healthcare reform legislation passed, the discussion has centered on the fear of a government takeover of healthcare, but maybe this should not be the focus. Perhaps we should be worried about a corporate takeover of healthcare.

HIPPA (Health Information Portable Accountability Act) was signed into law in 1996 ostensibly to protect a patient’s privacy. It involved “covered entities” such as physicians, administrators who administer health plans for employers, and anyone who is involved in transactions including business associates. Over time it has evolved into a legal club that consists of fines and or jail time that can be used to punish those who have been deemed to violate the rule. The Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gives the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services the power to determine the amount of fines and whether civil penalties will be applied to those who violate HIPPA. As with many other tenants of Obamacare, this was not present within the healthcare reform bill. It is simply another example of a legislative sleight of hand that makes it easier to slide in questionable pieces of legislation that may not be popular by distracting with one hand while the other is doing the dirty work.

If the over 700 waivers to the healthcare mandate granted by Secretary Sebelius to big corporations such as Waffle House and Foot Locker, and supporters of Obamacare such as Aetna, Cigna and the SEIU are any indication, those who oppose the administration need to watch their backs. Dr Milton Wolf wrote an article for The Washington Times (The Tawdry Details of Obamacare) that provides an excellent synopsis of the privileged treatment bestowed upon friends of the administration. Clearly, this highlights what the president said about rewarding friends. Those who are not lucky enough to receive these waivers will have the thankless task of being under the mandate yolk and therefore picking up the tab. In the age where the government constantly talks about ‘fairness’ how fair is that? It is yet another example of rules that are applied unequally.

Now that the cozy relationship between Google and the government has been brought to light it leads one to wonder what other favors will Google be granted?

It is conceivable that they can use a loophole in HIPPA to flout the regulations and share or sell the medical information that they obtain on their Google Health Website that was launched in May 2010. While Google states in their privacy policy that they will not sell your private health information, it is charged by Consumer Watchdog that they have been lobbying Congress to do just that. If this is allowed, they would join pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies in the ability to make a profit off of private health information. Furthermore, it opens up the possibility that the government would have direct access to your health information through the window that Google is purported to provide the government through agencies such as Medicare and National Security Agency. For example, if you put on your form that you had some medical condition or habit that you declined to disclose to your doctor, you may unknowingly be sharing that information with insurance companies and possibly the government. In short, Google is held to a different standard then a physician. They potentially could be allowed to share your health information since they are not limited by the strict confidentiality of the doctor patient relationship (if a doctor disclosed such information he/she would be fined up to 250,000 and receive 10 years in jail). The Department of Justice has broadened the definition so that the physician can now be found in violation without having specific knowledge of the violation. i.e., the physician is now guilty until proven innocent. The most recent DOJ interpretation of criminal breach of HIPPA regulations:

Knowingly

The DOJ interpreted the “knowingly” element of the HIPAA statute for criminal liability as requiring only knowledge of the actions that constitute an offense. Specific knowledge of an action being in violation of the HIPAA statute is not required
.

Google is one example of the growing list of companies with a creepy connection to the government. Like the Food Safety Bill S510 which has given control of our food supply to big Agra, and the Healthcare Reform Bill that has given control of our healthcare system to big Pharma, insurance companies and corporate hospitals, this appears to be yet another example of the insertion of a corporate middleman between us and our right to privacy. First it’s the carrot then the stick – put your health information voluntarily on their website, and like the social media websites put yourself in the position to have it be used against you.

Most recent list of approved government waivers: http://www.hhs.gov/ociio/regulations/approved_applications_for_waiver.html

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