Originally published January 16 2015
Doctors forced to interrogate patients about whether they own guns
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The Obama Administration is making another play against gun owners, this time by alternately using financial rewards and penalties against doctors.
According to reports, physicians who inquire whether or not their patients have loaded guns in their homes will earn extra compensation from Medicare.
As reported by PatriotNewsDaily:
When Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed as the nation's next surgeon general, politicians on both sides of the aisle expressed dismay. This was a guy who had come out forcefully in favor of gun control, having labeled firearms as a "public health threat." But while Dr. Murthy has promised not to use his position as a bully pulpit for politically-divisive topics, the Obama administration is already using the healthcare system to intrude on private gun ownership.
Writing in his local Tennessee paper, The Murfreesboro Post, Dr. Mark Kestner said that, if patients had not yet been asked whether they had guns in their homes, that time was likely coming. How patients respond, though, is up to them.
Comply, or else we'll cut your payments
Dr. Kestner wrote:
The question is usually asked as "Do you keep loaded firearms in your home?" The answer will be recorded in your health record at your doctor's office. As part of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) initiative led by the federal government your response may also be collected by the federal government.
The federal law that launched Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, includes the question as part of its provisions. However, you are not compelled by law to respond to the question.
But that's not all. There are other invasive questions that the law requires physicians to ask, including, "Do you have reason to be afraid that your spouse may physically harm you?"
If you are asking, what business is it of Uncle Sam's whether or not you own guns or might be a victim of domestic violence (which would be a local law enforcement issue, if true), you are not alone.
"While it may appear that your doctor has suddenly taken a special interest in many more aspects of your life than they did previously, the truth is that the federal government is mandating that your doctor retrieve the information from their patients," Dr. Kestner wrote.
He also notes that, under rules written into the Obamacare law, doctors have been encouraged to adopt expensive electronic medical record technology -- again, using financial incentives as a weapon to gain compliance -- and to have it "formatted in a certain way" to ensure that it can be accessed from anywhere (by government).
Using Medicare reimbursement to manipulate
"The federal Medicare program is structured in such a way that physicians had little choice but to comply with the program. On the one hand, if physicians complied with the program fully by last year they were rewarded with a financial incentive of several thousand dollars. However, if they delayed or failed to agree to provide the data they will be penalized by a certain percentage of Medicare payments going forward," wrote Dr. Kestner.
He says that doctors who have yet to comply with the law's non-required requirements not only were denied rewards but have also been put on notice recently by Medicare that payments "will be cut 1 1/2 percent." Moreover, if they continue to refuse to comply, payments will be cut again. This is important because much of a physician's practice is dependent upon some form of Medicare/Medicaid/government-issued payment, and many of these programs already compensate physicians poorly.
"In essence, the feds are using their control of Medicare reimbursement to manipulate how your physician handles your personal health information," Dr. Kestner said.
Read the remainder of his column here.
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