Question: Is there a provision in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that forces doctors to ask about gun ownership as part of a health history? A pediatrician told me it is included in Obamacare.
In the wake of Newtown, several noted pediatric specialists have called on their colleagues to ask parents about gun ownership and safe storage of firearms as a part of their medical history for children. The assumption is that owning a gun is a health risk to all of the family in the residence. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that doctors talk with families about safe gun storage.
Some public health advocates who are strong supporters of stricter gun control laws would like for physicians to ask questions about gun ownership from patients of all ages. These data would become a part of the medical record and could be harvested for studies that support gun control, ostensibly for someone to make a statistical case for gun ownership being a public health hazard. There is also concern among gun owners that insurance companies will mine the data for selective premium increases to enforce social policy.
Under Obamacare, the Internal Revenue Service will be the enforcement wing of government that oversees your purchase of health insurance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows your "private" health information to be accessed by government agencies. Thus, putting gun ownership into your health record is tantamount to alerting government bureaucrats that you are armed in accordance with your God-given rights recognized in the second amendment.
But, stop the presses: A National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed provision in Obamacare forbids harvesting this information. Sen. Harry Reid (D), Senate Majority Leader, put the provision into the law as it was being rushed through the process. The clause states that language in the "wellness and prevention" portions of the health-care law "may not require the disclosure or collection of any information" relating to the "presence or storage of a lawfully-possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property." Further, the measure says the law cannot be used to "maintain records of individual ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition." It adds that the price of health coverage may not be affected by the ownership, possession or use of guns.
Many people are not aware of this clause of the mammoth health care law. Its discovery has caused Speaker Pelosi's plea to "pass the bill so we can see what's in it" to haunt opponents of the second amendment.
Susan Sorenson, a University of Pennsylvania professor of social policy, said about the Second Amendment measure in the Affordable Care Act:
"A lot of people buy guns every year, and it's a health concern. For physicians and other health care professionals not to be able to ask about these issues and record them is counterproductive. Doctors ask patients about illegal drug use, disease history and sexual habits, So, Why not guns? To regulate what the provider can or can't do really intrudes into the role of the health care provider, which is to ensure the health of the individual and the people who are living in that home."
A thoughtful commentator on one of the Sunday talk shows suggested that if physicians are forced to ask about gun ownership, perhaps other questions should also be forced, such as the presence of automobiles, which kill many more than guns, or high-fructose corn syrup, which kills many times more though diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related conditions. The underlying question, of course, is "Where does it stop?"
The law now forbids such discussions of gun ownership in the context of your health care. As doctor of chiropractic, I assure you that if such a question were forced by law, I would gleefully disobey it and encourage all my colleagues to do the same against such a violation of privacy. I would encourage you to ignore the question. Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health care providers exist for health care delivery—not enforcement of social policy.
I cannot get Warren Zevon's "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money" out of my head as I write this.