Tags: Feds | Tracking | Obesity | Reg

Feds Tracking Obesity Under New Stimulus Rule

Tuesday, 20 Jul 2010 10:06 AM

By John Rossomando

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Your battle of the bulge is about to become public knowledge for Uncle Sam.

The obesity indicator known as the body mass index (BMI) will be included in Americans’ electronic health records under the stimulus law President Obama signed last year, in addition to traditional measures such as weight and height.

BMI, which uses the ratio between a person’s weight and height to determine body fat, is the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) preferred method for measuring obesity. It can be used to gauge a person’s risk for diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and other illnesses, according to the CDC website.

The rules aim to define what hospitals and health practitioners need to do to achieve the stimulus law’s goal to use electronic health records effectively for all Americans by 2014. The regulations are among the first the federal government has adopted on the march toward the deadline. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. David Blumenthal, national health information technology coordinator, announced the new rules last week.

Health professionals and institutions that don’t meet the standards will face reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The records will be available for access by the national health exchanges, with certain security stipulations, according to CNSNews.com.

“The objective seeks to ensure that the data is stored in a structured format so that it can be automatically identified” through electronic records to exchange or report, the rule says.

This stipulation will make it easier for state and federal agencies, such as Health and Human Services and the CDC, to track obesity with greater accuracy nationwide, CNSNews.com reports.

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