Tennessee state government wants to get into the healthcare business big time! There is pending legislation to collect all of the data on your privately paid for healthcare transactions.
The Governor’s administration is pushing HB2289. As amended the bill claims that the state government needs your information to;
“Improve the accessibility and affordability of patient health care and health care coverage”
“Identify health and health care needs and inform on health and health care policy”
“Determine the capacity and distribution of existing health care resources”
“Evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs on improving patient outcomes”
“Review costs among various treatment settings, providers, and approaches”
“Provide publicly available information on health care providers’ quality of care”
The plan is to mandate that your insurance company transmit all of your healthcare transactions to the state. You will be assigned a unique encrypted patient identifier by your insurance company. This identifier will be used by the state to track all of your healthcare transactions so that they can evaluate you according to the criteria listed above. Your doctor will also receive a unique healthcare provider identifier; but he or she will be fully identifiable.
What if you should want to opt-out? Well, you can’t. We tried very hard in the House Government Operations Committee this week to make that possible for you and your doctor but we were defeated on a party line vote. Should your insurance company refuse to comply with handing over your information it will receive a $100.00 per day fine from the state.
I want you to understand the breadth and the enormity of this plan. I asked just one of the major health insurance companies in Tennessee how many claims they process. 32,000 per hour; or 256,000 per day was the answer.
So I ask you to consider; why does the state of Tennessee need that much data, and that much detail about your healthcare transactions?
I asked a few public policy groups to take a look at the legislation. They responded with alarm. Some of their comments are that “…this is an avenue to centralized control over medical decisions...and the building of a brand new expensive bureaucracy that will use the data to issue reports to further secure their control over medical decision-making.” And, “Whoa. This bill is very scary. Not only is there no opt-out provision, but looking at claims data is the way to implement price controls.”
From what I’ve been able to learn several states have recently instituted similar databases and several more are considering bills at this time. Most all use a company called the Maine Health Information Center which is affiliated with the National Claims Data Management System. These are non-profit organizations set up to accept and analyze massive amounts of healthcare data.
Recently a similar plan was instituted in Minnesota. The cost was $1.2 million for the databasing of claims data on all Minnesotans for just the first 18 months. Additional costs for analyzing the data are $3.0 million dollars per year.
Yet the state of Tennessee claims that this bill will cost Tennessee little more than $200,000 per year. Perhaps that is because the bulk of the cost is borne by your insurance company.
I fail to see how legislators mandating insurance companies to turn over your healthcare transactions to the state cannot violate the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution; unreasonable searches and seizures. Surely, passage of this legislation would constitute a seizure by the state of Tennessee of private, and privately paid for detailed information for which the state has no business having and for which they have no compelling, rational or legitimate use.
Outgoing administrations often start thinking of their next job early. Perhaps the Governor and some of his cabinet members have big plans in the ever growing healthcare information field.
I hope that you are concerned about this bill because your voice does make a difference. This is one bill that should go away. Please take the time to contact your legislator to learn more and to express your feelings about this legislation; http://www.capitol.tn.gov/.