If the federal government were to say that medical records should be in X format, encrypted to at least Y standard when at rest, contain at least Z information, provide for A areas for additional information, provide for B options, and dictate S minimum level of security when the data is in transport, this can be justified using inter-state commerce clause for involving the federal government in medical records. Note in this example, the federal government is involved in defining an interstate commerce standard. The government is not involved in medical decisions. So, I think for the above, it's a good thing to do. HOWEVER....
But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and "guide" your doctor's decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners."
The above is the reason that should cause everyone's heart to skip a few beats. Here's the example:
Your mother getting treated by Dr. Vasoul. Dr. Vasoul decides on a treatment plan and gets approval from you and your mother on the plan. Dr. Vasoul implements the plan. You make sure your mother adheres to the plan and things start looking good. Your mother has returned to normal, meaning she's spoiling your children on a regular basis.
Now, Ms. Gover Mint comes around and reviews your mother's medical history and her current treatment. Ms. Gover Mint decides that based on her age, the treatment plan is not cost effective, even if the digital records show Dr. Vasoul noting your mother is responding well to the treatment. Ms. Gover Mint then tells Dr. Vasoul to follow another treatment plan that Dr. Vasoul knows is not as effective as the current plan and does not increase the quality of life. In fact, the stated plan even hinders the quality of life.
Think about the bureaucracy required to get the treatment plan approved while your mother suffers.
And consider this point. The I.R.S. has caught its employees snooping into the tax records of celebrities. Think about how many DON'T get caught and how many may use the medical information for ill.
Think about the trouble veterens have getting treatment at the V.A. hospitals.
This is NOT good.