On January 16, 2013 amid the backdrop of small children, President Obama signed a series of 23 “executive orders” that he contends are to save all of us and especially children from becoming victims of mass murder. Most of these executive orders are vague, with some rising only to the level of proposals. Others are virtually meaningless in the overall issue of violent crime as the President does not hold Constitutional authority to carry out what he has ordered. However amidst all 23 proposed executive orders was one very important one; an executive order that has far-reaching and chilling effect upon our civil liberties as Americans. President Obama’s Executive Order #2.
Executive Order #2 is quoted as follows:
“2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.”
From the FBI website:
“Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act) of 1993, Public Law 103-159, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact by telephone, or other electronic means, for information to be supplied immediately on whether the transfer of a firearm would be in violation of Section 922 (g) or (n) of Title 18, United States Code, or state law. The Brady Act is a public record and is available from many sources including the Internet at www.atf.gov.
The NICS is a national system that checks available records on persons who may be disqualified from receiving firearms. The FBI developed the system through a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and local and state law enforcement agencies. The NICS is a computerized background check system designed to respond within 30 seconds on most background check inquiries so the FFLs receive an almost immediate response. Depending on the willingness of state governments to act as a liaison for the NICS, the FFLs contact either the FBI or a designated state Point of Contact (POC) to initiate background checks on individuals purchasing or redeeming firearms. “
What records are currently available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System?
Currently; criminal records and some publicly available court records pertaining to mental health and protective/retraining orders. Records are checked from the following databases: National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, and/or the NICS Index. Local, state, and federal courts, military service records, etc. These records are generally available to the public through a variety of proper channels.
Some in the Media have mentioned mental health records needing to be more accessible to law enforcement when conducting firearms purchase background checks, yet the National Instant Criminal Background Check System already contains certain records pertaining to an individual’s mental health status.
“A person adjudicated mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or incompetent to handle own affairs, including dispositions to criminal charges of found not guilty by reason of insanity or found incompetent to stand trial.”-FBI.
So what does the President mean when stating he is going to “address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act”?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services:
“The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety. “
“Most of us believe that our medical and other health information is private and should be protected, and we want to know who has this information. The Privacy Rule, a Federal law, gives you rights over your health information and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. The Privacy Rule applies to all forms of individuals' protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral. The Security Rule, a Federal law that protects health information in electronic form, requires entities covered by HIPAA to ensure that electronic protected health information is secure.”
“We call the entities that must follow the HIPAA regulations covered entities.
Covered entities include:
- Health Plans, including health insurance companies, HMOs, company health plans, and certain government programs that pay for health care, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- Most Health Care Providers—those that conduct certain business electronically, such as electronically billing your health insurance—including most doctors, clinics, hospitals, psychologists, chiropractors, nursing homes, pharmacies, and dentists.
- Health Care Clearinghouses—entities that process nonstandard health information they receive from another entity into a standard (i.e., standard electronic format or data content), or vice versa.
How Is This Information Protected
- Covered entities must put in place safeguards to protect your health information.
- Covered entities must reasonably limit uses and disclosures to the minimum necessary to accomplish their intended purpose.
- Covered entities must have contracts in place with their contractors and others ensuring that they use and disclose your health information properly and safeguard it appropriately.
- Covered entities must have procedures in place to limit who can view and access your health information as well as implement training programs for employees about how to protect your health information.
Who Can Look at and Receive Your Health Information
The Privacy Rule sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information
To make sure that your health information is protected in a way that does not interfere with your health care, your information can be used and shared:
- For your treatment and care coordination
- To pay doctors and hospitals for your health care and to help run their businesses
- With your family, relatives, friends, or others you identify who are involved with your health care or your health care bills, unless you object
- To make sure doctors give good care and nursing homes are clean and safe
- To protect the public's health, such as by reporting when the flu is in your area
- To make required reports to the police, such as reporting gunshot wounds
Your health information cannot be used or shared without your written permission unless this law allows it. For example, without your authorization, your provider generally cannot:
- Give your information to your employer
- Use or share your information for marketing or advertising purposes
- Share private notes about your health care”
In 2009 The Democratically Controlled Congress passed the $800 billion dollar plus “Stimulus Bill.” One of the many provision in the law was over $27 billion dollars convince the medical profession through incentive or penalty, to start investing in the necessary infrastructure to move medical records from a diffuse paper-based system to a gargantuan, centralized electronic behemoth. Later, the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare strengthened this push to store medical records in a centralized network.
This centralization of information is a cornerstone of Obamacare and is claimed by Mr. Obama to save on medical expenses. However medical professionals are reporting no cost savings. But what they are reporting is a wonderful ability to track patients, their medical treatments, and histories.
What type of information is contained in medical records?
Scanning a person’s medical file can give insight into their home life, their sex life, their thoughts, their work, their personal habits, their relatives, and people closest to them… In short; every bit of personal and private information down to someone’s deepest, darkest secrets can be gained from medical records. This might explain the layers of federal and state laws currently protecting them.
Privacy protection, especially from government is enshrined in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America as an “inalienable right.”
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Combine the mandatory electronic medical reporting in Obamacare and the stated intent in Executive Order #2 and the dangers to a citizen’s personal privacy and very liberty should become clear. If this order is successful in its implementation, it is possible all personal, private, and medical records will be in one central location and no longer exclusively accessed by health professionals. Various law enforcement and “other” government agencies and by extension, the bureaucrats and politicians that regulate those agencies, will also have access the files, opening the door for control and subjugation of the entire populace in one fell swoop. In a worst case scenario, potentially anyone who does not conform to the behavior standards set by the “authorities” could potentially find themselves the subject of “leaked” information about their private lives or the lives of their loved ones.
Remember, currently the NICIS has a collected database of information available to the public. With medical records online and available to NICIS that all changes and the system now becomes the “holy grail” of all security targets. There will be the inevitable “hacking” theft and with access available to so many different agencies there will likely be a version of the often re-enacted “public employee inadvertently takes a NICIS laptop home” scenario. With access to such a database out in the open and unprotected, the personal records of millions of folks are downloaded for nefarious purposes before it is locked out of the system.
To imagine the potential danger to personal privacy and liberty Executive Order #2 poses one only has to look at our English cousins across the Atlantic.
Yesterday, the UK’s Daily Mail is reporting;
“GPs are to be forced to hand over confidential records on all their patients’ drinking habits, waist sizes and illnesses. The files will be stored in a giant information bank that privacy campaigners say represents the ‘biggest data grab in NHS history’. They warned the move would end patient confidentiality and hand personal information to third parties.
The data includes weight, cholesterol levels, body mass index, pulse rate, family health history, alcohol consumption and smoking status.
Diagnosis of everything from cancer to heart disease to mental illness would be covered. Family doctors will have to pass on dates of birth, postcodes and NHS numbers. Officials insisted the personal information would be made anonymous and deleted after analysis. ”
Is it so difficult to imagine the potential for the abuse of such sensitive information?
President Obama’s actions through executive order appear to subvert the HIPAA law through direct administrative action rather than seeking a normal Congressional legislative process. By doing so, it would appear the President is unilaterally chipping away at the HIPAA law in order to provide private medical records information to a nationalized central background check system run by government, using the excuse of public safety. This is far more dangerous a threat to the personal liberties of the citizenry than any firearm could ever be and signifies an erosion of the foundation of our uniquely American society, and our belief in our right to privacy from the government.