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Health Freedom Watch
December 2008


Should Medicare Providers Be Forced to Use Electronic Medical Records?

Beginning next month [January 2009], Medicare will give 2 percent bonuses to doctors who write electronic prescriptions, the Washington Post reported December 5.  As the largest purchaser of health care in the country—and the world!—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could flex its financial muscle to force doctors (and other providers) to use electronic medical records.  “The administration [HHS] has the leverage as the largest health-care purchaser in the country to push more physicians to adopt more technology, more rapidly,” said Dan Mendelson, a budget and health adviser under the Clinton administration. “They could say, ‘If you want the privilege of taking care of Medicare patients, you have to use electronic medical records.’”

This is just one example of the federal government’s enormous power over physicians and other health-care providers—and thus ultimately over our personal health-care choices.  The Institute for Health Freedom has stressed for years that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”  So long as the federal government is the dominant buyer, it will have the power to control patients and providers.  To obtain their preferred options, they will have to spend enormous amounts of money and time lobbying and working through the political process. Granting more power to HHS and Congress will only make health-care decisions more—not less—political.

Thus Americans should look for reforms that ensure individuals and families the freedom to pay privately for the health care of their choice.  (This would include fee-for-service arrangements.)

Source:  “HHS Will Be Shepherding Health-Care Reform,” by Ceci Connolly, Washington Post, December 5, 2008.

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Blue Cross Mistakenly Discloses Private Health Information

About 3,700 Blue Cross Blue Shield members in Delaware had their private medical information disclosed to other subscribers last month as a result of a printing error, according to the News Journal.  “The problem centers around explanation-of-benefits forms that were sent to subscribers within the last week,” the newspaper reported. “On one side of the form is the member's correct name; on the other side is the name of another member and information about his or her medical treatment.” [Emphasis added.] 

The article also noted that:  

  • Members will receive letters informing them of the disclosure (which occurred November 19).
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield apologized for the printing mistake, but executives would not answer questions about it.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield officials issued a statement saying, “Member health services information is deliberately listed in general terms to ensure our members’ privacy and excludes diagnosis information.” (Here’s a sample BCBS “Explanation of Benefits” form:
  • Delaware’s chief insurance regulator will hold a hearing this month to investigate the mix-up and what can be done to prevent a repetition. 

Source: “Blue Cross Mistakenly Discloses Private Info,” by Dan Shortridge, The News Journal, December 5, 2008.

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What Do Americans Think of Socialist Policies?

As the U.S. considers overhauling its health-care system next year, it’s important that we consider citizens’ views regarding socialist policies.  An August 2008 survey of 856 adults found that Americans overall support an economic system that emphasizes private property and free markets rather than government control.  However, Obama supporters were more likely than other groups to say government should control or own key industries such as health care and energy.  Following are excerpts from the survey conducted by the TechoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics:

What Do Americans Think of Socialist Policies?
Survey Dates: August 4, 2008 to August 9, 2008
Sample Size: 856 Adult Americans

I am willing to pay higher taxes in order to support more social programs?
% Agree
% Disagree
All Respondents   23 55
Democrats   36 36
Republicans   8 76
Independents   24 53
Obama Supporters   42 31
McCain Supporters   9 75
I believe the government should control or own key industries such as healthcare and energy? 
% Agree
% Disagree
All Respondents   26 50
Democrats   39 30
Republicans   15 68
Independents   23 54
Obama Supporters   40 32
McCain Supporters   12 71
The U.S. is evolving into a socialist state? 
% Agree
% Disagree
All Respondents   25 42
Democrats   20 46
Republicans   35 39
Independents   23 39
Obama Supporters   16 51
McCain Supporters   35 36
I believe it is the government's role to redistribute wealth and income?  
% Agree
% Disagree
All Respondents  22 62
Democrats   29 50
Republicans   14 80
Independents   22 60
Obama Supporters   28 52
McCain Supporters   14 79
How much do you favor the following economic systems?
An economic system that emphasizes private property and free markets? 
  % Favor % Don't
All Respondents 64 10
Democrats   53 13
Republicans   75 7
Independents   65 10
Obama Supporters   59 11
McCain Supporters   74 9
An economic system that emphasizes government control or ownership of industries and the economy? 
  % Favor % Don't
All Respondents 10 70
Democrats   17 57
Republicans   4 81
Independents   7 71
Obama Supporters   15 59
McCain Supporters   6 82

To view the poll in its entirety, see: ( 


Source:  “What Do Americans Think of Socialist Policies?” survey of 856 adult Americans conducted August 4, 2008 to August 9, 2008 by TechoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics: (

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Health Freedom Watch is published by the Insitute for Health Freedom. Editor: Sue Blevins; Assistant Editor: Deborah Grady. Copyright 2008 Institute for Health Freedom.