Fox's “Straight News” Joins In The Fearmongering About Privacy Of Health Care Records

Fox's supposedly “straight news” division decided to join its opinion programming in fearmongering that the privacy of Americans' medical records is being compromised by the Affordable Care Act.

On yesterday's America Live, Megyn Kelly convened a panel that included a Fox “Medical A-Team” member Dr. Marc Siegel to discuss an proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The proposal would allow the HHS or state authorities to collect raw data from patients in order to accurately gauge the risk pools for the health care exchanges being set up by the Affordable Care Act. Fox however, ascribed far more nefarious implications to the proposal.

And because no misinformation about the Affordable Care Act ever actually dies, Siegel -- a serial health care reform misinformer -- and Fox contributor Andrea Tantaros used the HHS rule to drag out the old chestnut that senior citizens should live in fear of the Independent Payments Advisory Board created by the Affordable Care Act.


The panel, too busy stoking fears of Big Brother bureaucracy, failed to mention that in its call for comments about its proposed rule, HHS went to great lengths to acknowledge patient privacy risks and discuss potential avenues to mitigate risk.

From HHS' proposed rule:

We recognize this approach may raise concerns related to consumer privacy and standard submission formats. Accordingly, we propose national standards to address each of these issues. We seek comment on the proposed approach, as well as comments on the potential advantages and disadvantages of the alternative approaches.


In paragraph (b)(3), to address consumer privacy concerns, we propose that States must utilize specific privacy standards in its data collection risk adjustment procedures. We solicit comments on whether submission of issuers' rate setting rules should be required.

Furthermore, any data used by the HHS or the states would be subject to de-identification so as to ensure the privacy of patients:

Uses of risk adjustment data. The State, or HHS on behalf of the State, must make relevant claims and encounter data collected under risk adjustment available to support claims-related activities as follows:

(1) Provide HHS with de-identified claims and encounter data for use in recalibrating Federally-certified risk adjustment models;

At the end of the segment, Siegel and Tantaros once again trotted out the oft-used right-wing claim that senior citizens are going to lose out because of the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to help control Medicare costs:

TANTAROS: I don't mean to scare, I know there's a lot of seniors watching now, but the independent panel that the president put together for Medicare, they're going to have a lot of senior's records anyway because this panel of twelve bureaucrats is going to be deciding what care Medicare patients can get, it's already the law of the land, it should be a very big concern.

SIEGEL: That's a great point Andrea's making now, because the information, once they glean it, is going to be used to decide one treatment better than another, what treatment should be approved, what test should be approved.

In fact, the Affordable Care Act says that IPAB proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits.”

But according to Fox's “straight news” division, you should be afraid, very afraid.