Thursday, November 4, 2010

Obama And Pelosi Sending More Jobs Overseas

In an interview with Diane Sawyer soon-to-be former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was proud about the work she did on healthcare reform.

Allies and critics say Pelosi's legacy will be as much about the position she held as the sweeping agenda that she pursue.

From the Capitol, she led her party's efforts to overhaul the health care system, increase the minimum wage, reform the regulation of Wall Street and stimulate the economy. At times Pelosi pushed through intense Republican opposition.

Asked to assess her tenure, Pelosi quickly answered, "Job well done."

As part of the stimulus bill the Democrats pushed for electronic medical records. Americans were warned about the consequences of such a move.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved an $838 billion "stimulus" bill by a 61-37 vote, capping more than a week of political sparring between critics of the measure and President Obama, who claimed during a press conference that an "economic emergency" made it necessary.

What didn't come up during the president's first press conference was how one section of the convoluted legislation--it's approximately 800 pages total--is intended to radically reshape the nation's medical system by having the government establish computerized medical records that would follow each American from birth to death.

Billions will be handed to companies creating these databases. Billions will be handed to universities to incorporate patient databases "into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals." There's a mention of future "smart card functionality."

Yet nowhere in this 140-page portion of the legislation does the government anticipate that some Americans may not want their medical histories electronically stored, shared, and searchable. Although a single paragraph promises that data-sharing will "be voluntary," there's no obvious way to opt out.

"Without those protections, Americans' electronic health records could be shared--without their consent--with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy.

The Wall Street Journal published an article today showing that Americans' fears may come true.

Indian technology companies are eyeing a coming wave of U.S. spending to digitize health-care records. But sensitivity over outsourcing and resistance by American hospitals to sending medical information overseas could thwart efforts to win big contracts.

The U.S. government next year will begin to dole out billions of dollars to health-care providers who adopt electronic medical records. Doctors also face a federal mandate to upgrade software as the U.S. switches to a new system of insurance billing codes.

For Indian companies with experience in software outsourcing, the flurry of health-related tech spending in the U.S. is "like another Y2K opportunity," says Pradep Nair, head of the health-care practice at New Delhi's HCL Technologies Ltd., referring to the turn-of-the-millennium computer glitch that provided work for Indian tech firms.

Some health-care providers are reluctant to send some patient information overseas, however. "As soon as it leaves the confines of the U.S., it's not subject to the same rigorous laws as we are," says George Conklin, chief information officer of Christus Health, an Irving, Texas, operator of more than 40 hospitals in six states. He says he has sent offshore only management of a small number of systems that strip out personal information, such as one that hospital staffers can use to identify departmental trends.

The article goes on to state how tough it is for Indian firms to attract the work but with $50 billion at stake you know they aren't going away anytime soon.

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