Free Healthcare IT Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Get all the latest Health IT updates from Neil Versel for FREE!

Daschle = Hitler? The Washington Times thinks so

Say what you like about the tax problems that forced former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to withdraw from consideration for HHS secretary and criticize his policies all you want, but the Washington Times has officially gone too far. In an editorial today, the favorite paper of the lunatic fringe on the far right compares Daschle’s proposals for increasing the efficiency of healthcare through IT to a Nazi program.

“This notion is fully in the spirit of the partisans of efficiency but came from a program instituted in Hitler’s Germany called Aktion T-4. Under this program, elderly people with incurable diseases, young children who were critically disabled, and others who were deemed non-productive, were euthanized. This was the Nazi version of efficiency, a pitiless expulsion of the ‘unproductive’ members of society in the most expeditious way possible,” the Times says.

The article is accompanied by a photo of Adolf Hitler.

There almost was a cogent argument here. “One provision causing increasing concern is the future role of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, who will be in charge of collecting and monitoring the health care being provided to every American,” the Times says, before launching into its Coulteresque polemic. There are legitimate concerns about privacy in the health IT portion of the economic stimulus plan.

Yes, I know the far right likes to shock, particularly in this new era of full Democratic control of the federal government, but come on. The fact that the current national coordinator, Dr. Robert Kolodner, is Jewish, makes this extra offensive.

February 11, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

More on Allscripts—and the fight over data

Earlier today, I posted news about Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions intending to sell its Medication Services division to an unnamed purchaser for an unspecified amount. I’ve since gotten clarification via e-mail from company spokesman Todd Stein:

“The release is earlier than we would normally have liked because we’re required to reveal all material non-public information about the company prior to undertaking a share repurchase program like the one we also announced yesterday. That’s to ensure that shareholders know everything about the company that they need to know in order to make an informed buy-or-sell decision.”

Indeed, Allscripts announced yesterday a $150 million buyback program and related $150 million increase in its credit commitments.

The company also was named in a Bloomberg story today as one of three firms leading the fight over whether to include greater privacy protections than HIPAA currently affords in the $20 billion health IT section of the economic stimulus legislation. Privacy advocates, including Dr. Deborah Peel’s Patient Privacy Rights Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, favor the House version. Business groups, including IT vendors, pharmacy benefit managers and the pharmaceutical industry, prefer the Senate version that allows data mining and direct-to-consumer marketing to continue.

For the record, the other companies named as possible major beneficiaries of the legislation are athenahealth and Quality Systems, the publicly traded parent company of NextGen Healthcare Information Systems.

How do I know this story is a Big Deal? Peel and her cohorts have been very active in keeping the media up to date on developments on Capitol Hill the last couple of weeks, knowing that this could be the last chance for another decade or more to change existing healthcare privacy laws and practices.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

HIT stimulus apparently leaves out mental health

According to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, both the House and Senate versions of the economic stimulus bill exclude mental health providers from the $20 billion in funding for health IT.

“The National Council is deeply concerned about the lack of direct support for persons with addiction disorders and mental illnesses in the stimulus bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In particular, the economic recovery measure contains no new federal investments for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In fact, it appears that SAMHSA is the only operating division within the United States Public Health Service that did not receive emergency funding in either the House or Senate version of the stimulus legislation,” National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg, MSW, says in a statement e-mailed to reporters today.

“Also, while privacy protections in the Health Information Technology (HIT) for Rconomic and Clinical Health Act have wide support in the addictions and mental health communities, we were dismayed to learn that the vast majority of our nation’s residential, community-based and individual providers of addiction and mental health services are not eligible to receive Medicaid and Medicare financing or direct grant support under this new HIT initiative. Without the additional resources included in the bill, the goal of community behavioral health organizations to help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives will be compromised. The community organizations will face many barriers to receiving the Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for the adoption of HIT technology and will likely be excluded from the grant/loan programs, infrastructure funding, and other HIT provisions of the bill,” Rosenberg continues.

“Let us be clear: parity does not stop at private health insurance coverage. Mental health and addiction providers, both those that receive SAMHSA funding and those that do not, are as much a part of America’s healthcare safety net as physicians and hospitals. Indeed, we confront the same economic conditions including a significant spike in average caseloads combined with successive rounds of state budget cuts.

“The National Council urges Congress to include community behavioral health organizations as eligible entities in the economic recovery bill.”

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Allscripts to sell drug-packaging division, but who’s the buyer?

Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions today announced an agreement in principle to sell one of its oldest assets, the Medication Services division. But the press release left out one minor detail: the name of the proposed buyer.

I’ve got a request in to the company, but if anyone else has any information, I’d love to hear it.

Allscripts has been prepackaging prescription drugs from its Libertyville, Ill., pharmacy facility (and former corporate headquarters building) for longer than it’s been selling electronic medical records, but medication services no longer is the central focus of the company.

“The proposed sale of our Medication Services business increases our focus on our core healthcare information technology businesses at a time when we expect electronic health records and electronic prescribing, along with our interoperability and connectivity efforts, to receive a substantial boost from the federal economic stimulus package,” CEO Glen Tullman said in the press release.

Allscripts says it will continue offering medication services through a co-marketing agreement. But, again, we don’t know who the company will be co-marketing with.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.