Provisions included in the 2009 economic stimulus law require that all Americans’ health information be maintained in an electronic format by 2014.
I’ve never believed that this initiative would yield the costs savings that some project, but it seems like a good idea – on the face of it. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of Gulf Coast citizens and (literally) blew away their physician’s offices, it was clear that having medical records in a safe and controllable electronic form made sense.
What does not make sense is that we will no longer have absolute control over those records. The government will have access to our (formerly) private health data whether we like it or not. Last week, another troubling aspect of the implementation became apparent when the government issued regulation requiring that Body Mass Index must be calculated and displayed in your electronic records.
The stimulus bill created the new National Coordinator of Health Information Technology whose office will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The stated goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions.
Some have expressed concern that a new “Federal Fat Police” force, armed with your BMI will mandate changes in your diet or exercise regimen and will require compliance measurements. Until recently those concerned citizens have been derided and dismissed.
If you don’t think this scenario can happen here, Google Mississippi House of Representatives Bill 282, which makes it unlawful for a restaurant to serve an obese person. This is just one state, but it isn’t difficult to imagine what the Federal Government could do with this type of mindset and your BMI.
Drop those Twinkies or you could find yourself on the U.S. Government’s “no takeout” list.
Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.