13 Million Grant for AHIC Successor

T

he Department of Health and Human Services has announced a grant of up to $13 million will be awarded for the design, creation and operation of a successor entity to the American Health Information Community.

AHIC, created and chaired by HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, advises the department on how to advance health care information technology, including creation of a national health information network. Leavitt believes a new public-private entity will be more representative of industry stakeholders. Some others, including U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and the AARP interest group, believe AHIC remaining under the federal government umbrella would be more accountable.

Under a Notice of Funding Availability issued by HHS, the department anticipates one award with an initial payment of $2 million to support the design and creation of a successor entity during a four-month period. A subsequent $3 million payment will fund initial ongoing operations of the entity. Up to $8 million in additional funding will continue to support operations assuming availability of funds.

{Bad news for consumers: the federal government plans to completely ‘privatize’ the oversight of the health IT system by ‘privatizing’ AHIC, the current public-private consortium it set up to guide the development of the health IT system. It’s not that AHIC has so far protected the best interests of patients and consumers, but at least federal agencies that in theory have oversight and a duty to protect citizen’s interests are members of AHIC. AHIC is dominated by private industry appointees who are building the national health information network to facilitate the data mining and sale of every Americans’ health records. Consumers control none of their sensitive health information today—this new plan to privatize AHIC will ensure that never changes because its successor will have no public or government oversight. And the feds are going to grant some corporation $13 million dollars to set up the successor to AHIC. Ensuring private industry is in charge of the nation’s health information is like putting the foxes in charge of the hencoop.}

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