HHS secretary urges privatization

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U.S. Healthcare and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt said that the American Health Information Community (AHIC), a government advisory group on health IT, should be replaced by an entity that functions more like a corporate democracy than a political one, so health IT standards are created outside the political process.

Under the requirements of a 2005 charter, HHS is leading the privatization of AHIC, whose successor is intended to be an independent and sustainable public-private partnership.

Accountability and transparency remain concerns for critics of privatization, including consumer advocacy groups, labor organizations, and the AARP. These organizations believe HHS should remain active in the governance of health IT standards reflect public interests.

According to Leavitt, HHS will remain a major participant because it will be one of the biggest payers for the transition process and operation.