[ Wednesday, January 16, 2013 ]
HIPAA and Gun Control.
Jeff [9:46 PM]
Never thought of those two in the same thought, but two items today make the connection. First, in his 23 executive orders
Obama signed today, he includes the following: "Preserve the rights of healthcare providers to protect their patients and communities from gun violence," which apparently means clarifying that HIPAA does not prohibit physicans from "reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities," and clarifying that the ACA does not prevent physicians from discussing guns with their patients. The HIPAA clarification was first out of the gate, with Leon Rodriguez writing a letter to providers
stating that, "When a health care provider believes in good faith that such a warning is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of the patient or others, the Privacy Rule allows the provider, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, to alert those persons whom the provider believes are reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat." True enough.
Some of the reporting
left the impression that a hole was being carved into HIPAA to allow medical information (presumably mental health information included) to be disclosed in connection with background checks required before purchasing some guns; sure enough, one of the executive orders to strengthen background checks contains this nugget: "Address unnecessary legal barriers that prevent states from reporting information about those prohibited from having guns: Some states have cited concerns about restrictions under [HIPAA] as a reason not to share relevant information on people prohibited from gun ownership for mental health reasons. The Administration will begin the regulatory process to remove any needless barriers,starting by gathering informationa bout the scope and extent of the problem." If you knew that your seeking mental health treatment might prevent you from being able to purchase a gun if you decided you wanted to exercise your Second Amendment rights, might that inhibit your seeking treatment?
Of course, to make schools safer, they're going to hire more resource officers and school counselors, and "help schools create safer and more nurturing environments." So the problem at Sandy Hook was that the school wasn't a nurturing enough environment? That makes as much sense as banning Batman movies in response to the Aurora shooting.
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