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Government Begins 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:

  • 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 also reports that the new OASIS regulations permit the following entities access to data on homebound seniors and the disabled without their consent:
  • Department of Justice, courts, or adjudicatory bodies;
  • HCFA contractors;
  • Researchers;
  • Members of Congress (in response to written constituent inquiry); and
  • State or federal agencies that evaluate the cost and quality of care.
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."

For more information about the OASIS data collection program, see the following Web site: http://www.hcfa.gov/medicare/hsqb/oasis/hhregs.htm.

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of Health Freedom Watch, the bimonthly watchdog report published by the Institute for Health Freedom.

 
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 their homes.
 
 
 
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