Wednesday, August 01, 2018
When Wondering What Is Going On It Is Always Wise To “Follow The Money”.
This popped up over last weekend.
Sue Dunlevy, National Health Reporter, News Corp Australia Network
28 July, 2018
IN the wake of a growing public backlash and increasing scrutiny of the My Health Record, key health lobby groups backing it are declaring themselves to be on the payroll of the agency rolling it out.
We can reveal the Australian Digital Health Agency has spent millions of dollars of taxpayers money trying to co-opt the support of leading health and consumer groups for the government’s online My Health Record.
A News Corp investigation of government tender documents has found
* The Consumers Health Forum has received over $105,000;
* The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners nearly $2 million;
* The Australian Health and Hospitals Association $1.2 million;
* The Pharmacy Guild $194,000;
* Australian Council Of Social Service $32 500.
The Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners both signed contracts with the government to promote the record to doctors in return for a $910 million increase in Medicare rebates.
In most cases the money was for educating their members or consumers about the record, mailing out letters and setting up a secure messaging system between doctors.
All the groups say they had in principle support for an electronic health record before they received the money, that the money did not change their view and some have been critical of aspects of the My Health record after receiving the money.
Every Australian will get an online My Health Record that will reveal if they have had an abortion, a mental illness, a sexually transmitted disease or a drug addiction unless they opt out by October 15.
Former AMA president Professor Kerryn Phelps says any individual or group that has received money from the ADHA needs to declare it.
“I have a very strong and unequivocal view that advocacy organisations like the AMA and other groups should not do deals with government in exchange for supporting programs,” she said.
“They need to be presenting a completely unbiased view on behalf of their members, we are not an arm of the government.”
The Australian Digital Health Agency has taken forthright approach in the last week.
Professor Phelps revealed after she spoke out about privacy problems with the record she received a phone call from Australian Digital Health Agency boss Tim Kelsey.
“What he tried to do was reassure me on privacy and security and I said I would have to proceed with my concerns,” she said.
“It was unusual to get a phone call like that,” she said.
Earlier this week a Parliamentary Library paper critical of privacy aspects of the My Health Record was removed from the library’s website and later a more anodyne version replaced it.
Queensland MP Bob Katter who shares privacy concerns has suggested the record is Orwellian.
“I read George Orwell’s 1984 and it scares me still. Big Brother is watching,” he said in a media release on his constituents concerns about the record.
The agency said it was collaborating with a wide range of clinical and consumer leaders and had 17 agreements with peak consumer organisations and informal agreements with another 15 organisations — to undertake collaborative communications activity around My Health Record.
“No stakeholder has been asked, as part of any contractual arrangements, to present a particular view point on having a My Health Record. Additionally, organisations are open and free to have their own views on My Health Record,” the agency said.
“These organisations are committed to the system and are encouraging healthcare providers to adopt use of the My Health Record system into daily practice,” the agency said.
Sue Dunlevy has been doing a sterling job letting Newscorp subscribers (sadly it is behind a paywall) know just what is going on with the myHR and the current opt-out process.
Most who have been watching all this closely have been rather surprised with the rather one-eyed support for the program being offered by the organisations listed and have always assumed this was due to funding from the ADHA having an influence. It is nice to see some specific numbers around the amounts spent. (Note the CHF does understand the myHR contending issues quite well as indicated from this blog post here:
and so it is even harder to follow the why they are not more balanced in their media releases.)
It is clear that, at least to some degree, ‘money talks’!
I will note, in passing, that Prof Phelps is by no means the only one to have had phone calls from Tim Kelsey (or his chief of staff) to try and have their views changed. Just so you know there is a fair bit of it going on behind the scenes, according to some very trustworthy sources.
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, August 01, 2018