Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fact or Fiction: Gov't Collecting BMI Data

GOP Candidate Ann Buerkle

"The Obama Health and Human Services Department is planning to compile a federal health record on all U.S. citizens by 2014," including "each individual’s Body Mass Index."

GOP Candidate Ann Marie Buerkle on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 in a page on her campaign website

Fact or Fiction:  False Information
It sounds like a claim from a chain e-mail, but it's posted on the website of a Republican candidate for Congress.

Buerkle -- who describes herself on her campaign website as a "nurse and accomplished attorney working in health care," added, "I believe this is an unacceptable intrusion by government into the private lives of Americans. It is costly, and susceptible to abuse. As the financial burden and unbearable strain of Obamacare has started to take its toll on healthcare costs, such information like BMI can eventually be used to help government bureaucrats to ration health care. Even if that’s not the case, I’m opposed to the expansion of federal bureaucracies, out-of-control spending, tax increases, and increasing dependency on government."

Computerizing medical records has long been a goal of policymakers across the ideological spectrum. The idea is to shift from paper-based records to electronic ones, so that doctors can access information about patients more quickly and easily and make better clinical decisions as a result. Supporters hope that electronic medical records will reduce the frequency of medical errors, unnecessary diagnostic tests and inappropriate treatments. They also hope that, in the long term, streamlining record-keeping could bring down the rapidly escalating cost of health care.

Why isn't Buerkle right? Because providers will be reporting information on patients' vital statistics only in aggregate, not with any personal identification attached. So while the federal government will have a new, large data set on Americans' weight, it will not know who weighs how much.


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