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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Public Records > Government Databases > HCFA's OASIS Database

HCFA's OASIS Database

In a Federal Register notice published June 18, 1999, the Health Care Financing Administration announced a final effective date for the mandatory use, collection, encoding, and transmission of OASIS data for all Medicare and Medicaid patients receiving skilled services. "OASIS" is the acronym for "Outcome and Assessment Information Set."

The OASIS system collects a breathtaking amount of information. Just a cursory review of OASIS "data sets" reveals their breadth: name, Social Security Number, residence, birth date, gender, payment sources for health care, recent medical treatment, current condition, risk factors, living arrangements, safety hazards in patient's residence, sanitation of residence, identity of people assisting patient, vision and speech status, ability to breath, ability to eliminate, cognitive function, and much much more.

Information like this is often needed by doctors to provice health care, but whether it should be collected in a government database is another question. OASIS data is intended to improve the quality of health care information that the government has. While it will probably do this, it will also threaten the privacy of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Privacy is a cost of big government programs.

As the cost of health care continues to spiral upwards, politicians and bureaucrats will undoubtedly be pressed to make new uses of the information in this database. In light of new priorities, current promises about privacy will be set aside with impunity because the data is held by the government.


HCFA's OASIS Home Page

How the Medicare Bureaucracy Threatens Patient Privacyby Robert E. Moffitt, Ph.D., Paul Appelbaum, M.D., Kent Masterson Brown, Jim Pyles & Ronald Welch, The Heritage Foundation (October 15, 1999)

HCFA's Latest Assault on Patient Privacyby Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation (March 22, 1999)

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[updated 12/31/00]

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