Washington Monthly - The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology isn't "new"; it was created by George W. Bush five years ago. More importantly, the measure is about medical records, not limiting physicians' treatments.
Progressive Review - While much of the foregoing is true, a reading of the legislation suggests unprecedented interference in the business of doctors and hospitals, not unlike the feds ordering every small business to use a certain software and then make regular reports on just how they are using it.
The measure did not belong in the stimulus package. It should have been a stand alone bill with full hearings, especially with the deep questions it raised concerning patient privacy.
Further, some of the language is vague enough to suggest the possibility of greater future federal control. For example:
"The Secretary shall seek to improve the use of electronic health records and health care quality over time by requiring more stringent measures of meaningful use . . .
"The National Coordinator shall annually evaluate the activities conducted under this subtitle and shall, in awarding grants, implement the lessons learned from such evaluation in a manner so that awards made subsequent to each such evaluation are made in a manner that, in the determination of the National Coordinator, will result in the greatest improvement in the quality and efficiency of health care."
Frankly, we preferred that was left to our doctor.
The mere existence of this measure presumes, even though appearing to deal only with health records, an assumed right of the federal government to intervene in health care in a substantial way that could easily be expanded. The gestalt behind this measure is completely different than programs like single payer or expanded Medicare that are designed to deal with paying for medical care, not controlling it.
Add to this the major question of patient privacy - how long will it be before the NSA, FBI and Homeland Security have easy access to these records? - and there are more than enough reasons for this measure to have been dropped from the bailout bill.
Consider that every citizen who arrives at a hospital with an overdose or having drunk too much will be in a file easily accessible by law enforcement and others regardless of what nice promises are made to the contrary. It might even possible for the police to charge some one based on a doctor's report of drug use. And, of course, itâ€™s a substantial gift to the spy agencies, the biggest data collection system since the NSA started recording phone calls.
Welcome to Obama's brave new world.