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UI Foundation and regents, stop beating around the bush

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | JULY 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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So I was sitting around the other night playing GoldenEye (the classic Nintendo 64 version, not the crappy remake) contemplating the legal and ethical ramifications of shooting Xenia Onatopp repeatedly with a P99.

Legal? Are you kidding me? I'm James Bond — literally licensed to kill — and she's a sadomasochist Georgian lust-murderer. But there's always something about shooting a girl with a digital gun that doesn't quite sit well with me — like how I feel when I accidentally step on a puppy or hear babies crying.

Or, you know, like the UI Foundation getting doctors to solicite donations from their patients.

Legal? I guess so. Ethical? Makes me feel a little like I'm karate-chopping Onatopp with my digital palms.

The state Board of Regents sat down with the Foundation leadership June 26 to talk about the all-too-shady practice of taking patient information and turning it into cash.

In early June, the Des Moines Register reported that around 1,000 eye patients have been solicited through letters signed by the medical doctor heading UIHC ophthalmology.

At first glance, that doesn't look so bad — I mean, it's kept between the patient and the doctor, right?

Right?

No, as it turns out — the UI Foundation can directly pull up what is wrong with you and target you depending on your specific ailment based on your medical records.

What, do you have a problem with that? I mean you signed a waiver — you know that one silly waiver in the billions of pages the nurse gives you before your appointment. I mean, you think someone would have pointed that out. We need your medical history, a urine sample, and oh yeah, permission to solicit money from you on your death bed.

There's that feeling again (the sadomasochist Georgian lust-murderer one) — like maybe, just maybe, patients would feel a sense of obligation to donate to doctors who gave them fantastic medical care. It's what the layman calls a guilt trip.

But all is well and good because the regents and the UI Foundation released a joint statement on June 28 that said they have discussed the potential conflict of interest and, you know, possible violations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and rest assured, the discussions were "very productive."

I'm not going to come right out and accuse the Foundation and the regents of being purposefully vague about the entire meeting in the press release, because that would just be silly and inappropriate.

They say such things as "the Foundation re-emphasized its strong commitment to the protection of patient privacy and its steadfast compliance with federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy regulations," and "[UI Foundation] agreed to keep open its channels of communication."

I'm sorry, what? Are you implying its channels were not open in the first place? Is UI not a regent university?

But don't worry, kids — "the meeting has given board leadership great reassurance in the practices of the UI Foundation," Regent President Craig Lang said in the press release. "We [the regents] are confident that the UI Foundation will continue its work for the university in a highly ethical manner and in the best interest of Iowans."

That might seem like an incredibly vague string of words meant to say everything and nothing at the exact same time, but don't be silly, Iowa taxpayer. It's the most specific phrase in the statement.


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