Hip, hip, hipaa, hooray! The government proves me right
By Mencken’s Ghost
January 18, 2013
Yesterday I published a commentary about the skyrocketing growth in regulatory-related jobs in both the private and public sectors--tens of millions of needless paper-pushing jobs that are crowding out jobs that produce goods and services of real value. It’s a huge economic issue that is largely unreported by the moo-cow media herd.
Soon after publishing the piece, I received a notice that Health and Human Services has posted a 563-page rule to the Federal Register, a rule, to quote, “that modifies earlier Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules with more stringent privacy and security measures passed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
Yes, you read that correctly. A rule that will do great harm to the economy was a product of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Even John Maynard Keynes would have thought it was insane. His idea of using fiscal stimuli to resurrect a dead economy did not call for adding permanent paper-pushing jobs stemming from rules that would strangle the economy over time. Nor did his theory apply to situations of high deficits and debt, as the U.S. has now.
Approximately 700,000 entities (schools, businesses and nonprofits) will have to comply with the new rule. According to the lowball estimates of HHS, the cost of compliance in the first year will be between $114 million and $225 million.
No doubt, each of the 700,000 entities will hire an administrator and/or retain a consultant and/or purchase recordkeeping software to not run the risk of violating the rule and incurring up to a million-dollar fine. Many of the retained experts will be the very same apparatchiks who wrote the indecipherable rules while working for the government and will now get rich as consultants as the nation gets poorer.
You’ve read about this in the media, right? Hahaha! That was a lousy joke.
Much of this massive waste of time and money and intellectual capital will go on behind the scenes, as is happening now with the current version of HIPAA. You encounter a taste of HIPAA when you go to the doctor and are asked to sign a supposed privacy form. The form is tiny ice crystal on a small icicle on the large tip of a huge regulatory iceberg. Most people don’t know what they are signing; yet I have never seen anyone refuse to sign it. For all they know, it could be an authorization to send them to the gulag.
Well, at least government K-12 schools are teaching unquestioned obedience to government--just like those governments that actually had gulags in order to achieve an egalitarian society.
I’ll end momentarily with an excerpt from HHS’s comments on the new rule, so you can get a feel for how sick someone has to be to write and promulgate such tripe. First, a couple of closing comments.
Readers always ask what can be done about such issues, because, understandably, they don’t know what to do other than to stand aside and watch the avalanche pass by, hoping they can somehow save themselves if they can’t save the country.
I could say that the solution is to stop voting for Democrats and Republicans and to start voting for true libertarians. But that won’t happen. Besides, given human nature and the genetic lust for power and control, libertarians would just morph into control freaks like everyone else if they every got power.
The only hope is to make people aware of the problem, because the first step in solving a problem is to know it exists. Perhaps with enough awareness, a solution will be found. Yeah, hope springs eternal and is dashed eternally.
Now for an excerpt. Below is just one paragraph from ten pages--yes, ten pages!--of HHS commentary on what comprises a business associate under the rule.
We proposed in the definition of “business associate” to provide that
subcontractors of a covered entity, i.e., those persons that perform functions for or provide services to a business associate other than in the capacity as a member of the business associate’s workforce, are also business associates to the extent that they require access to protected health information. We also proposed to define “subcontractor” in §160.103 as a person who acts on behalf of a business associate, other than in the capacity of a member of the workforce of such business associate. Even though we used the term “subcontractor,” which implies there is a contract in place between the parties, the definition would apply to an agent or other person who acts on behalf of the business associate, even if the business associate has failed to enter into a business associate contract with the person.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.