Collecting Data on Homebound Seniors & Disabled
October 18, 1999
The March/April issue of Health Freedom Watch
reported that the federal government had postponed plans
for collecting personal information on millions of homebound
seniors (see "Does Government
Need to Know if Grandpa Curses?"). It was reacting
to public outrage over Medicare's plan to ask seniors
nearly 100 questions under the new OASIS (Outcomes and
Assessment Information System) Medicare program. OASIS
will also collect data on nonelderly disabled patients-
including patients with HIV.
Will Strangers Speak for Seniors & Disabled?
After re-examining the matter, the Health Care Financing
Administration (HCFA) decided to make compliance voluntary.
However, if anyone refuses, a health care provider must
provide the information, according to government regulations.
Thus, a total stranger will speak for seniors and nonelderly
disabled patients if they won't divulge personal information.
What's most astonishing is that the government is
not only collecting data on homebound patients but on
their caregivers too! That includes husbands, wives,
children, or whoever else assists seniors and the disabled
in their homes.
According to Twila Brase, RN, President of Citizens'
Council on Health Care, HCFA revised the OASIS regulations
June 18 to:
Brase also reports that the new OASIS regulations permit
the following entities access to data on homebound seniors
and the disabled without their consent:
- Mask the name and Social Security number of nongovernment
patients, leaving all other identifiers legible;
- Allow patients to receive care although they refuse
to answer questions; and
- Eliminate the required transmission of financial
data, although collection will still be required.
Brase says "HCFA is using the health care system to build
citizen dossiers and perform unconsented research on human
subjects. We do not believe that OASIS will stop with
home health care. The public hasn't a clue what is happening,
but when they understand, they will be outraged."
. . .
- Department of Justice, courts, or adjudicatory bodies;
- HCFA contractors;
- Members of Congress (in response to written constituent
- State or federal agencies that evaluate the cost
and quality of care.
This article was originally published in the September/October
issue of Health
What's most astonishing about Medicare's OASIS program
is that that the government is not only collecting
data on homebound patients, but on their caregivers
too! That includes husbands, wives, children, or
whoever else assists seniors and the disabled in