How You Lose Control (Part I)

Here’s a scenario:  You’re working around the house and you hurt yourself.  You go to the Emergency Room where they hand you a bunch of papers, which you dutifully sign (without reading).  The outcome of your visit is that there’s nothing wrong with you except you might have a hairline fracture so you are referred to an orthopedist.

You go to the orthopedist where you sit in the waiting room for an hour and a half.  An hour and a half!  It is the day of your kid’s school program and you promised him you’d be there.  You can see his big, brown eyes looking at you as he says, “But you promised.”  You finally see the doctor who, with a lousy bedside manner, tells you there’s nothing wrong with your bones.  All this for nothing!  You give him a small piece of your mind and take off for the school.

Three months later, you go to a new dentist who insists that you take a little something to help you relax.  You don’t need anything to relax; you’re fine.  What’s this guy’s problem?  He’s an exceptionally open young fellow, and he tells you that Health-e-Connections says that you have episodes of rage.

Say what?  What the heck is Health-e-Connections and who says you have episodes of rage?

Health-e-Connections—hereinafter referred to as HEC—is a data base somewhere “up there” into which most of your health care agencies and physicians have been uploading all the data they gather about you.  When you went to the ER, one of the papers you signed was a consent form for other doctors to download the data.  When you went to the orthopedist, he called your justifiable irritation a “rage episode” and put it in his notes that went into the data system.  When you went to the new dentist, he checked your HEC record, saw the note, and decided it would be prudent to calm you down with an anti-anxiety drug before he went to work.

Since you have never heard of HEC, you go home and look it up on the computer. tells you that it’s an RHIO.  What the heck is an RHIO?  It’s a Regional Health Information Organization, and what the heck is that?  What is going on here?

Big Brother has just taken control of your physical body, that’s what has happened.  The geeks in Washington put this information-gathering system into Obamacare.  Did they ask you?  No, they didn’t ask me either.  They just decided it would be a good idea, so they wrote it into the legislation, which got funded by Congress. 

Do you remember the blog I wrote about Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Medicaid transportation?  (No?  Me neither.)  A small bunch of graduate students was detailed to write a report about the local Medicaid transportation system, which was corrupt and substandard.  They interviewed transportation vendors, county officials and state bureaucrats.  What they did not do was reach out to a single one of the 22,000 citizens in this county who use Medicaid transportation.  And every one of those students already had a government job lined up in Washington.  One of the leading public administration schools in the country is teaching its students that the citizens don’t matter.

So the politicians got Obamacare, with its information-gathering, passed, then sent it to the state, which also decided it would be a good idea, so they kicked in some more money to make it happen.  Then the insurance companies got on board and added their money.  Pretty soon doctors are going to be billed for their participation.

The power goes where they money goes and you, the patient, haven’t got any say in the matter.  The entire “health care” system (how would things change if we were honest and called it a “sickness care” system?) exists because of you, the patient.  Your needs drive the whole thing.  All those doctors, nurses and lab techs have jobs because of you.  If you weren’t sick, they’d be out of work.

Do you feel like the most important person in the sickness care system?  Nah, me neither.  In most of my contacts with the sickness care system, I am made to feel that I am not smart enough to take care of myself, probably not honest, and substantially inferior to the people who work in medical care, including the receptionist.  And now all those sickness-care people are talking about me behind my back.

The information gathering started with a couple of good ideas.  These things always start with good ideas but, as my wise mentor Dr. Warren Zeigler pointed out, things that are good for some people can be bad for other people and when politicians are trying to get us—the people/patients/citizens—to agree to something, they don’t tell us for whom the new law will be bad.  They don’t look at the negative consequences, which are that patients will have less power to make decisions about their own life.

What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is another HIPAA.  Did you ask for a super duper privacy act?  Nah, neither did I.  Has it totally messed up your life?  Gotten you frustrated and angry because nobody in the damn medical system will give you a straight answer to anything anymore?  Yeah, me too. 

Medical people who are doing wrong things are citing HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—to prevent being held accountable for the wrong things they are doing.  It’s all about secrecy, folks.  Once you’ve allowed some people to have information but denied it to other people, then democracy has gone right down the toilet.  Information is power and if you are being denied information then your right to act powerfully in your own life is being constrained.

So where were we?  Oh, yeah, you were in the dentist’s chair contemplating the fact that a dorkhead doctor had told all his colleagues that you have rage.  It simply isn’t true, so what are you going to do about it?

Stay tuned . . .

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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