Veterans are now receiving leaflets from Veterans Affairs prior to diagnostic appointments that show iPhones are among a short list of “prohibited items” at VA medical centers. Other items on the list are pistols, knives and backpacks.
The decision is a violation of due process and numerous laws protecting the rights of disabled Americans. Let me explain why.
The key here seems to be that VA forgets that veterans are also Americans who are protected by the Constitution and who also possess unalienable rights. Did we sign our rights away forever by fighting our country’s battles?
Based on the photo, does this mean iPhone or all cell phones are “prohibited”? Does that also include banning the well-known “Obama Phone”? I wonder if they called the White House before running this one up the flagpole?
Ten-year-olds across the country can bring a backpack and iPhone wherever they want… but a disabled veteran will need to leave her medications, records and iPhone in the car before reporting to her traumatic brain injury (TBI) exam?
According to the leaflet, veterans who show up with an iPhone (or presumably other cell phone types) will be denied due process rights including a disability examination, according to the leaflet.
The leaflet does not explain what to do if the veteran is prescribed use of an iPhone or backpack as an accommodative device that helps the disabled veteran with a disability.
Changes to policy like this are coming on the back of recent revelations that VA violated the due process rights of more than 300 veterans with reported traumatic brain injuries. There, at Minneapolis VA, at least one veteran (a client of mine) openly recorded his appointment with VA staff in a legal manner because it occurred in Minnesota. In Minnesota, it is legal to record so long as at least one person is aware of the recording. Federal laws do not restrict this. But don’t try that in California and some other dual party states where all parties to a conversation must consent to recording. (It is up to you to ensure you are legally recording a VA official.)
Based on the leaflet going around, VA is apparently afraid such transparency – (ie recording what VA staff are saying to veterans) – will cause some kind of risk severe enough to ban all iPhones. What kind of risk are they working to prevent?
Lately, VA has shown a deeper paranoia of veterans of the current wars and has implemented certain policies that infringe on our due process rights.
Previously, I reported on VA using secret committees when using its “patient flag” system. That system allows VA employees to limit a veteran’s access to health care without notice or an opportunity to confront the accuser. Instead, the veteran is notified only after VA makes a decision.
Similarly, last October VA implemented a new policy that would restrict a veteran’s access to her disability compensation records – contained within the CPRS medical record system – under the claim that some veterans are violent.
The anecdotal claim is now used to justify denying access to the records until after Veterans Benefits Administration makes a decision on the claim. VA is trying to redefine a medical diagnostic exam as not being the practice of medicine where errors could result in medical malpractice claims.
However, such policies limit access to electronic medical records and may violate HIPAA as a result. But VA never seems to mind making policy decisions that violate clearly established laws and regulations.
Now, VA will deny a veteran access to a lawfully mandated disability examination if that same veteran has an iPhone or backpack. Iphones are routinely used to help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries take notes and remember appointments. VA doctors often prescribe use of these devices to help disabled veterans.
Additionally, veterans with bad backs, using crutches, or using wheelchairs will also be prohibited from using backpacks as accommodative devices under threat of losing our due process and legal right to receive a disability examination. Many paralyzed veterans will not be able to house their colostomy bags, apparently.
Does this seem strange or is it just me? How many of you receive leaflets like this prior to receiving non-VA health care?
I don’t know about you, but my next step was to file a FOIA request yesterday. It is important to push any Federal agency to follow the law. Otherwise, we will get nothing less then the Communist government we all fought hard to defeat over the years.
How ironic is that? While we fought the Cold War, the Communists were busy infiltrating the Department of Veterans Affairs to give us nothing less than the same horrific and hatefully oppressive treatment we fought 60 years to defeat?
Are current VA policies a sign that we actually lost the Cold War in an ironic twist of fate? When should we call Apple to let them know VA is unlawfully banning their phones?
UPDATE: VA issued an apology for its ‘ill-advised’ ban of cellphones