As the Senate prepares to vote on its paired down version of the recovery package, Rush Limbaugh is still inventing reasons to oppose its passage. Today on his radio show, Limbaugh zeroed in on a $20 billion portion of the bill devoted to increasing the use of health care IT. Limbaugh warned, “Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system” and declared that this and similar health care provisions have “nothing to do with stimulus but have everything to do with advancing the liberal agenda”:
LIMBAUGH: Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Now there are arguments back and forth about whether or not this is a good thing. The opportunity for the loss of privacy is huge here by digitizing and making everybody’s health care records computerized. Especially having a major federal database where everybody’s health records are.
To illustrate his flawed argument about the “loss of privacy,” Limbaugh noted today’s revelations that Alex Rodriquez used performance enhancing drugs in the early part of this decade. “[A]sk Alex Rodriguez about privacy,” he remarked. Watch it:
Limbaugh can rest assured that his drug records (that have already been disclosed) and Americans’ health care records will be protected by “stringent privacy and security controls” even if they are digitized. In fact, President Bush’s former Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. David Brailer, explained that he is even concerned that “the House bill [goes] so overboard on privacy that it may inhibit the flow of information.”
In addition, Limbaugh is wrong to suggest that the recovery package would create a “major federal database” of every citizen’s health records. Rather, most summaries of the legislation explain that physicians will be offered financial incentives in the form of direct grants and increased Medicare reimbursement rates for adopting “certified electronic health records” and proving that they utilize them “effectively.” Indeed, while the government will be subsidizing the creation of this “nationwide system to exchange health data electronically” — it will not be running it.
Finally, Limbaugh’s claim that investment in health care has “nothing to do with stimulus” — a common right-wing canard — is false. The funding related to health care IT alone is projected to create over 200,000 jobs. As Igor Volsky recently noted, “Investing in Health IT not only saves money, creates jobs and reduces medical errors, but it also helps primary care physicians afford the infrastructure for expansion.”