No Consent Required: 4 Things You Need To Know On New VA Privacy Rules

The new opt-out form is not as it seems, and agency bureaucrats are working hard to keep veterans from having a say in how they will or will not share out health information with third parties. Buyer beware. If you opt-out using the official form, you may be opting in for the same thing you think you are avoiding.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs clarified its position about whether it can share veterans’ health information without consent on Monday evening.

“Veterans will no longer be required to provide signed, written authorization for VA to release electronic health information to community providers for the purposes of receiving medical treatment.”

So what does this mean?

There are four things you need to know to understand where to turn when addressing this issue.

Before I get into the list, just know VA truly believes it is no longer obligated to adhere to traditional notions of privacy and property rights when it comes to your health information.

The effective date of the new sharing policy was September 30, 2019. If you did not opt-out by yesterday, you are technically opted in per my VA contacts. Agency employees will supposedly begin the opt-in process internally sometime in January 2020 (so they say).

Okay, below this Facebook Live video is the list of 4. The video contains my explanation of the program, where it came from, and some theories about why what VA is doing may be in violation of various laws.

What I Did

[Psst… if you want to know what I did to opt-out, take a close look at the highlighted portion in the Facebook Live video above of the new privacy rule.]

1. MISSION Act Does Not Say What VA Says It Says

First, the MISSION Act does not require the agency to share your health information with the Health Information Exchange (HIE) in order for you to use community care or to have your data input within the Obama-era Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record.

The relevant section of the MISSION Act as codified in 38 USC § 7332(b)(2)(H)(i) states the Secretary may disclose the contents of a medical record with or without consent: “To a non-Department entity (including private entities and other Federal agencies) for purposes of providing health care, including hospital care, medical services, and extended care services, to patients or performing other health care-related activities or functions.”

The relevant part of the statute does not state the VA is required to share your health information without consent in the manner the agency is currently asserting. It also does not state the agency can input your data into the Virtual Lifetime Electronic File or use the Health Information Exchange without consent.

2. Multiple Ways To Opt-Out

Second, the opt-out form, VA Form 10-10164, is not the only way to tell the agency you do not want them to send you health information to the exchange. You can provide a letter instructing the agency what information you do not want to be disclosed. That is what I did since I did not agree with the language in the opt-out form. Whether VA will abide by my request may be a question worth investigating. The form in question actually requires veterans to expressly opt-in to the HIE in order to opt-out.

Get it? The form is a Catch-22. The cover letter to the newly enacted privacy rules says you need to use the form to opt-out but you are actually opting in if you sign it to opt-out.

Seems legit.

3. Failed To Follow The Privacy Act

Third, the VA pushed out its new privacy rules in a manner that likely violates the Privacy Act and Constitution since they provided one business day between projected delivery and the effective date on the new policy. At least one group of veterans plans to litigate the matter, Military-Veterans Advocacy.

Take a quick gander at 5 USC § 552a.

4. Again, Health Information Exchanges?

Fourth, the relevant part of the MISSION Act, § 132, does not require the agency to use Health Information Exchanges when providing health information required for clinicians in the community care system to provide veterans with care.

The current system is still in place and allows the transfer of information needed to safely provide health care services to veterans.

Agency bureaucrats seem hell-bent on merging veterans’ records with the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, and the ambiguous language of the MISSION Act as codified in 38 USC § 7332(b)(2)(H)(i) provided the opportunity to make the dream a reality for the technocratic elite in Silicone Valley.

This is why I included the video clip of the Eisenhower farewell address pinned at the section addressing the technologic elites.

P.S. A lawsuit will be filed in the next two days about the privacy rule roll-out.

RELATED: Your Health Information Is Out There

Spin – Written Consent Is A Burden

I love how the agency is trying to use the Apple spin to gain the upper hand on the news cycle following its completely botched rollout of the MISSION Act this week – – Operation No-Consent.

You may recall Apple was heavily criticized for removing the 3.5 mm headphone adapter. The change made it impossible to listen to music with wired headphones while charging or using any other plugin device when the battery required charing.

Rather than admit the company simply tried to increase its profit margin by making the phone less convenient, Apple spun it as if the company was being “brave” by removing the 3.5 mm headphone adapter. I know the change made the phone less user-friendly and more costly in some instances.

Enter VA.

RELATED: Congress Reminds VA To Be Honest

Why Health Information Exchange

The agency is now trying to spin its decision to no longer adhere to the Privacy Act when releasing confidential medical records to non-VA entities. Specifically, really wants to release our health information to the Health Information Exchange publicly called the eHealth Exchange.

The exchange is operated by a nonprofit Healtheway, Inc, that is operating the deal as dba Sequoia Project. It is working on essentially integrating the Obama-era Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record into the MISSION Act flow if health information between the agency and community care providers. Outside VA, the HIE is actually the eHealth Exchange.

The rub comes in where veterans dislike the idea of a third-party entity like Sequoia Project serving as the gatekeeper between the agency, the veteran, and the community care provider.

RELATED: VA Auto-Enrolls Cancer Survivors For Genetic Info

Can’t Get Health Information Back

Presently, VA was required to facilitate that process but is attempting to outsource the responsibility to a third party. Once the third party is in possession of the health information, the agency says veterans can no longer claw back to the health information released.

Last week, the agency swiftly pushed out massive privacy changes to the veteran community where 2 million veterans received notice of significant changes on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

The effective date of the new policy was September 30, 2019. Meaning, veterans only had one business day to sort out whether to opt-out or stay in the new system by filing an opt-out form, VA Form 10-10164, Opt-Out of Sharing Protected Health Information Through Health Information Exchanges.

The agency informed veterans the only way to opt-out was to submit the form in person or via US Mail by September 30, 2019. Without being opted out, veterans would be automatically opted in under the authority of Secretary Robert Wilkie.

RELATED: China Hacking VA Records Since 2010

Prior Consent Required

Previously, under standard HIPAA requirements and the Privacy Act, the agency was required to seek written consent from the veteran before sharing health information.

Not anymore.

Opt-Out = Opt-In

The problem with the new opt-out form is that it requires veterans to expressly opt-in to the new health information sharing scheme the form purports to opt them out of. “By signing this form, I am agreeing that my health information will no longer be shared electronically with partners through HIE for their treatment of me except in a life-threatening medical emergency.”

The offending language suggests the agency would use the Health Information Exchange without consent in the event of emergencies, but the new privacy rule sent to veterans last week provided a severely expanded interpretation.

Privacy Act Violations

The Privacy Act does not appear to have been an issue the drafters of the new privacy rules were concerned about.

The form points out that by opting out, a veteran would still be able to use community care, but the agency would utilize standard means of communication outside the exchanges, “My health information will continue to be shared for my treatment on paper or through fax or other legally allowed means other than HIE.”

Meanwhile, the big VSO’s, VFW, Legion, and Disabled American Veterans, appear to be asleep at the wheel. None of the organizations have publicly taken stands against the severe violation of privacy and property rights.

The agency asked for feedback from the Iron Triangle Big Six VSO’s last week, but our trusty VSO community failed to raise much of an eyebrow until I blasted the agency last week on Facebook Live.

Those Supporting Less Privacy

Those in support of the new privacy erosion use the same arguments we hear when law enforcement propose attacks against the 4th Amendment.

“What’s the big deal?”

Well, if you do not think this is a big deal, then I am confused about why you served in the military, to begin with?

I swore to protect the Constitution in the military.

My right to privacy and property right to keep my health information where I want it seems like a fundamental right. You can also choose to disregard your rights, but do not force your position onto me or any other veteran.

Since I swore an oath an attorney to uphold the Constitution, I still fight for those same rights only using different tools and wearing an uncomfortable suit.

Another argument I have heard suggests that somehow veterans will be harmed if we do not destroy this privacy right. Now, this position is obviously absurd given veterans have existed for well over 100 years in this country without our despots in VA disregarding our rights in this way. I would assume the veteran population will continue even if we opt to not use the HIE.

So what do you think about the new policy? Is it worth it? Should we force veterans to abandon the rights we fought to protect in the name of safety, health care quality, or efficiency?

Below is the full agency press release issued tonight, in italics.

VA improves information sharing with community care providers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will implement new procedures by January 2020, for sharing medical information for Veterans accessing health care in the community.

The department is changing its procedures for electronic health information sharing in accordance with Section 132 of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION Act).

“The MISSION Act gives Veterans greater access to care, whether at VA facilities or in the community,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We are providing seamless access to care, improving efficiency and helping to ensure Veterans get the care they need, where and when they need it.”  

The change moves VA from an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ model of electronic health information sharing. Veterans will no longer be required to provide signed, written authorization for VA to release electronic health information to community providers for the purposes of receiving medical treatment.

VA shares health information with community providers using a secure and safe electronic system called the Veterans Health Information Exchange. This electronic exchange of information improves patient safety — particularly during emergency situations — and allows for improved care coordination for Veterans receiving care in the community.  

Veterans who do not want their health information shared electronically can opt out by submitting VA Form 10-10164 (opt out of sharing) to the Release of Information Office at the nearest VA medical center now or at any time going forward. Veterans who previously opted out on VA Form 10-0484 prior to Sept. 30, do not need to submit new forms. However, Veterans who restricted what information VA shared by submitting VA Form 10-0525 (restriction request) will need to opt out entirely by submitting Form 10-10164. 

VA is committed to protecting Veteran privacy. Only community health care providers and organizations that have partnership agreements with VA and are part of VA’s approved, trusted network may receive VA health information.

For information about VA’s health information exchange visit www.va.gov/vler

Thoughts?

While VA obviously does not give a rip what we think on this issue, I would still like to know.

So, what do you think? Did VA blow it or are mandatory no consent laws the new normal?

Is this how you thought you’d be treated after fighting to protect the Constitution?

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89 Comments

    • Tell me how veterans will be harmed if the the privacy right is not destroyed. I believe all this is about is turning what was to being upside down. This is all connected to George Soros. Ask Secretary Wilkie, how much he is getting paid by the social engineer George Soros? Ben, I do not go to the VA anyway. And, I will not return. The VA has become a population control system anyway. It is not medical care. I have a brain. And I will leave it at that. Probably a much higher IQ than many of these government officials. Add me to your Class Action Lawsuit.

      • Oh yes, this is how low of an IQ that they have. The technology will be the downfall of this country. Also Ben by putting it all in digital format is more than likely a way that they think what ever they put into the databases cannot be disputed. See it is paper that disputes all. Because one cannot change what is on paper. Hear me. I promise you God will take care of George Soros and his puppets. I manage my life.
        Not the VA. However they think different. Mr. Wilkie, a George Soros puppet. I am going to work.

    • My health is what it is. Good health in despite of them. I do not care how many health exchanges they have. Will not change who I am. Ben, they probably would like to take me out for this very reason. See my point. Communism Ben.

    • Yes, Former Republican Dwight Eisenhower. Yes, Mr. Eisenhower is correct.

      What he is saying in his farewell speech is the opposite of what is happening. We are a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC.

      Not a Democracy.
      Democracy is about mob rule.

    • Furthermore, they can do whatever.
      All they care about is taking people out for no reason. Do not even want to be involved with them. They do not have to worry about cost savings. Been seeing about myself. As for anything out here that they believe they are missing the boat on, there is nothing more and nothing less. There is no there there. Sorry.
      They are truly sick to me. Ben, they are so vindictive. What I said yesterday in the VA to the VA when I took forms in is all true. Sick people.

    • What has happened in the last month for the VA to throw the veteran community under the bus? You mentioned you will be doing some more digging. This is truly insane.

      • Angela Johnson – Your incessant ramblings in comments on this website are evidence that you do not have good health. You have delusions, are superstitious and see everything through the paranoid lens of conspiracy. I may be the only one who is tired of you using this site as your own, personal sounding board, but I doubt it. Please have your mental health assessed. I’m tired of having to scroll through your multiple comments just to be able to see someone else’s for a change.

      • I may have you pegged all wrong and, if I do, I will be happy to admit it, but I need to see evidence of it. The George Soros thing alone is enough to make me wonder where you’re coming from. Additionally, every time I have come to the comments over the past many months (since I found the site), I have seen what seems to be highly excessive posting on your part. It is your right to post excessively, just as it is my right to remark upon it. Are you saying that, by listening to Mark Levin, I will understand you? If that is the case, I will try it.

    • In a few ways, this helps me with the transparency of the records. It though becomes a safety issue because it increases the chances for me to be harmed as well as other vets by people who are not supposed to be in the know. This change makes veterans vulnerable. This is the problem with it. However, it is the laws of this country that are currently on the books that are currently harming me and shitting all over me. In which, the laws belong to the Department of Veterans Affairs. So the decision is both good and bad for me.

      • Actually, this could hurt quality citizens who absolutely nothing to do with the VA. Points to the privacy of others as well. As per current laws, the current laws were harming me before they took this action. But, the VA does not recognize this. So Ben I hope your lawsuit hits them where it hurts to stand up the privacy of others at least.

  1. I sent out 10-10164 via USPS priority mail on Saturday and my local VAMC received it yesterday 9/30, the cut off date. I already share my med info with two Legacy hospitals in my area. That’s enough for me. I don’t need some clown at the Dept. of Agriculture reading my med info. I’ll just have to see what happens. If there is a class action lawsuit I will participate.

  2. The VA moves at the speed of molasses on every front. The lightning speed of this change is completely out of character of the VA I know. It is shady as hell to make this change. In all other instances of health care you are required to get informed Consent. I believe a change of this magnitude involving my health records should be held to the standard of Informed Consent.

  3. Who is to know if this Sequoia project wont get hacked? Then everyone’s medical record will be out there on the street. Sequoia is highly suspect. My govt. record has already been hacked and I am hyper suspicious of what the VA is doing. There are many parts of the Mission Act that are questionable and I doubt that most of Congress read it. Meanwhile the DAV was asleep at the wheel like usual.

    • DAV sad how they just cluster to themselves. Many disabled here DMV 3 of them no contact. Yep the system is rigged against us Veterans as I know it.
      They need better PR than liquor.

    • The Sequoia Project, besides not even being involved since last year, does not nor ever had a central repository of veteran files. They are a nonprofit that worked on connecting hospitals, both public and private, together for faster information exchange. To put it in layman’s terms, they specified how the phones work, but never stored the conversations.

    • I have no doubt it will be hacked, just like VA, OPM and military records have been hacked. As a vet and and former VA employee, my information has been hacked three times that I know of. (I’m sure you’re familiar with how the federal government always conceals data breaches for months before they finally admit them or get outed.) I believe that having everything out in the cloud just makes it easier.

      • Figgy you’re spot on. In a technocratic society medical records of veterans are the gold standard for profits. As a old DevilDoc who took his GI Bill and got a Comp.Sci degree this is old news… And it’s gonna get worse. I also did the state & GS thingy too. So I’m like a buck-naked man standing on the Mall in D.C. with all my hacked records for the world to see.
        We’ll see what this class-action really does.

  4. Lets recall the GI Bill fiasco, which Congress had to get involved in VA decision that their implementation of the new housing stipends was flawed; Veterans not getting payments on time for months, Veteran getting underpaid—and a VA decision retroactive payments to correct was not going to happen——-until pressure from public and Congress changed this decision.
    I see BIG issues, not only private sector having access to your VA medical, NOW, does this give VA automatic rights to ALL your medical——which could include mental health information your that has HIPAA protected information from a spouse (i.e example joint counseling sessions).
    As the newly elected National Veteran Service Officer for Italian American War Veterans, I am opposed to this implementation. The process should be just the opposite—–you want your records shared with private doctors, you sign the form. If you want blanket authority, you sign a form authorizing.
    Clearly, my opinion , the VA planned this 11th hour notice on the option to opt out, and the implementation
    was based on cost savings measured; not to process the millions of Veterans who want NOT to give up his or her constitutional right.
    End result, less Veterans signing up for VA healthcare to protect medical records he or she does not want their employee to have access. For Example, police officers and first responders, who might sign up for initial mental health evaluation after returning from a deployment.

    • This is a dangerous “regulation” which is not legal, for it does not provide an opportunity for us veterans to voice our position in a law which affects us., (true notice and opportunity to defend). Truly unconstitutional and I commend Ben for his sharp eye. The VA Boobs should not be in charge of decisions which affect our privacy and other constitutional rights. Count me in should there be a lawsuit. Tired of the Arrogant attitude of the VA where there is a wall between us and communication with any responsible bureaucrats. I am a lawyer and have to chuckle at how sharp Ben is in assessing this subverting of our rights.

  5. Ben and all reading this, I need to point out a few things I recently found out while trying to figure out why the Triwest doctor I saw was acting as an agent for the VA in having me sign VA form that opted me into the VA’s health information exchanges. I opted out utilizing form 10-10164 and mailed certified to the Roseburg VA privacy officer on 9/27/19. Ben’s article was the first I’ve heard of this VLER-ehealth exchange and that I was automatically going to be opted in. The week previous at my 9/18/19 triwest cardiology appointment at providence medical center in medford Oregon I blindly signed what I would later find out was VA form 10-0485 “request for and authorization to release protected health information to health information exchanges”. The Cardiologist I saw Dr. Gunasekera informed at the beginning of the appointment that this was necessary in order for her to review my VA Medical records for her treatment of me. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and informed the Doc I couldn’t read the form I was signing. I questioned what the blank spaces were and she informed she would fill those in later and pointed to the bottom of the form where I needed to sign.
    I questioned my poor decision in signing a blank VA Form without reading it. On 9/19/19 I drafted a letter to Dr. Gunasekera revoking my permission to grant her access to my VA Medical records. Prior to my appointment with this Doc when I had registered, I had already signed the HIPPA agreement. the VA had already shared my medical information with her. I sent the Roseburg VA Privacy officer and my attorney emails about what had happened and my intent to revoke whatever authorization I had signed.
    on 9/20/19 I drafted a letter to the Roseburg VA Privacy officer Richard Weber informing him what had happened and informed “I have made the decision to revoke any permission/authorization I may have granted for Providence/Dr. Gunasekera or Anyone to access my VA Records.”
    I also called Providence Cardiology and requested the original of whatever VA form I signed be returned to me. Spoke with Nurse Carolyn who would inform that she had located the form and would return it to me by mail.
    I informed her that I would still me mailing my letters to Dr. Gunasekera and VA privacy officer Richard Weber to cover my bases. On 9/20/19 I mailed the letters to Dr. Gunasekera and Richard Weber by certified mail and did receive the green return receipt that both these letters had been received. I also did receive the original form I had signed for Dr. Gunasekera in the mail. This is when I found out that the VA Form 10-0485 authorizing the VA to release my protected health information is what Dr. Gunasekera had me sign. The blank spaces on the form for my name, birthdate and gender had been filled in by some one. The blank space for my SSN was still blank.
    Was Dr. Gunasekera acting as an agent for the VA in persuading me to opt into sharing my protected health information to the health information exchanges? Were Dr. Gunasekera’s actions legal, especially since she was aware I couldn’t read the form and mis-represented the intended purpose for me to sign this form?
    I did some digging on a Tricare website. For Active duty military, participation in the ehealth exchange is mandatory. there is a link on the tricare webpage to: “MHS Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record Health Information Exchange Initiative (VLER-HIE) eHealth Exchange Partners”
    this is a list of 57 “MHS VLER HIE eHealth Exchange Partners Currently Onboarded”. this list states it was last updated September 26, 2018. It lists organizations like #4 the Social Security Administration as well as healthcare organizations and the states they are located in. #8 on the list is Providence-Swedish Health System (CA & OR). It appears to me that Providence has an interest in obtaining access to all of my VA and military records.

    I hope this information is useful and I would also be willing to participate in a class action lawsuit. I am unsure how many other Veterans have been approached/recruited by triwest providers to authorize the release of protected health information. hope there is some useful info provided here. Mike Berns

  6. This really is a privacy issue under the Constitution. We are no longer active duty and have no further obligations because of it. The VA itself serves us as private citizens and not employees of the Govt or members of the various branches of service.

    This falls under the protection of the 4th amendment. We have a right to be secure in our papers, which in this case is our medical records. The Govt has no great or compelling reason to violate HIPPA laws just because we are veterans. This amounts to an unreasonable seizure of medical information on each and every one of us.

      • I too agree, also, I didn’t receive my Notice of Privacy Practices in the mail until today, 10/01/2019. I wasn’t even given a chance to opt out. I’m concerned as I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment and all I need is some DR to report me to any agency for depression or psyche issues. All appears very shady and fascist like in my opinion.

    • YOU ARE CORRECT. THE VA CANNOT GET USED TO NOT BEING ABLE TO DO WHATEVER THEIR MINI BRAINS CONCOCT IS APPROPRIATE.

  7. Nobody at my VA knows about opt out.
    Ok I just got my 1st almost complete human trying to sell a walk in tub.
    They are scared as they can’t remain on the phone. So now I have my first number to save and use if it gets worse. For I will aid in your defense of our so called liberty till I die. Here is ha the number Debray Fl 386 204-0360 no stuff will leak. I am duck taping layman.

  8. Unfortunately, you got this one wrong like Friday’s and it’s causing much distress among veterans, I don’t know for what reason. I explained in detail on our page the history of this and the health exchanges, but here’s the two most important points:

    1) there is no central repository or database to hack. The exchange is a system of security protocols, it just means the VA can email the private hospital ER the critical medical records they need to treat you.

    2) the previous opt-in process was not some HIPAA rule, rather the VA chose the old opt-in method in 2010 because their record-keeping could not guarantee a veteran did not have one of four conditions: sickle-cell anemia, HIV, alcohol or drug abuse. Their system now has that ability so they got rid of the opt-in. Bonus fact: in 2015 only 4% of all veterans had opted in and 90% of information request to the VA were rejected because of a lack of consent part.

    I’m not A VA employee, i’m a veteran and I’m also a journalist. I’m more than happy to share with you all the information I have so that we can get the correct information out to veterans and not cause them to needlessly worry.

    Bottom line, if you end up in an ER and unconscious then your ER doc can gather your medical records from the VA and treat you properly. If you pick up a prescription from a private pharmacy, like 40% of veterans do, they can have a check for drug interactions and prevent issues. That’s what this does. Never really had anything to do with the Mission Act on the first place.

    • Capt Rob Abbott:
      1. You indicated you got this wrong –WHO are you responding to? Is it Ben Krause?
      2. You stated: “I explained in detail on our page” –WHAT page are you referencing?
      Thanks
      Gregg

      • Hi Gregg, Bob Abbott here. I was responding to the author of the article, Ben Krause, and was referencing last Friday’s (Thursday’s?) article as well.

        I’m with Coming Home Well. Here on WordPress if you click a commenter’s name it will take you to their website, if provided. In this case we did a FB live on our FB page. I hesitated in posting that originally because I didn’t want to appear as self-promoting. Just want accurate info out there for our vets.

    • Capt., the opt-in during 2015 had to do with the Choice program. This is my interpretation of it. Many vets were not even eligible for the Choice. This is why the low percentage I would assume. I am not eligible for either. So why the throwing under the bus so it seems?

      • Well I had a big long reply with lots of details, but because there was a link to an NIH article it apparently failed moderation. Allow me to try again, with a much shorter and briefer comment.

        Hi Angela, thank you for replying. The Opt-In was adopted in 2010, Choice program was 2014, so it couldn’t have anything to do with that. The opt-in was because of 38 U.S. Code § 7332; any records that show the patient has sickle-cell anemia, HIV, drug, and alcohol abuse means it needs special handling. Really long story short, VA computers couldn’t guarantee that, so they chose the opt-in method.

        Adoption rates were super low, so back in 2015 they asked for a legislative fix. They got it, and it’s now an opt-out method. They started the changes last year in January.

        Google “Veterans Health Information Exchange: Successes and Challenges of Nationwide Interoperability” for the NIH article, it has all the data.

    • Captain, You are still putting or trying to put lip-stick on pigs. “Needless worry?” Are those “peer to peer handshake systems” the ones that make info, tests, and communications automatically disappear or deleted within certain time periods? Or the ‘community care” types can’t tell us any results or comment until it passes muster with the VA?

      One huge data base I got lost in was Medicare… twice in two weeks time.

      Security protocols? That’s a laugh when we’ve already had to sign countless documents to share our records with, why, and seemingly with no limits. Or are you a new reader on Ben’s blog or being selective about things you support or approve of? And NO simple emails for ER care you make sound simple and handy but it’s not. Good luck with that immediate care service or perhaps being a officer and such like some medical staff during service gives them certain attention or privileges.

      When leaving the VA and waiting period past 2015 the local hospital that refuse to give me copies of my own files or to forward them on to get care elsewhere had to wait weeks to get my records and care info ‘mailed to them.’ No electronic or swift email care, hi tech crap in use or available or not used. That is on top of the release forms needed for civilian and pharmacy use and care complete with all other background checks, and other issues you don’t mention. Or are we still all alike and have the same treatment or ease of it as others?

      Who’s facts or reports are we ALL supposed to believe? Only so many did this, so many did that. C’mon. You don’t realize just how many dirty little hands have permission or can gain access to our med files. But that’s okay as well as the VA passing around info to whomever? Missing pages on our old blood test and urine screens long before the war on drugs came about and the demanded drug and alcohol testing… for our own good and for “excellent care.” Come to find out with the missing pages added in finally was in “fact” tests for alcohol and drug testing without our knowing or obvious consent but was easily excused or told “yes we tested for it over health and care concerns we just couldn’t test vets for AIDs or HIV.” Huh? Was told previously other info was out for releasing or sharing but not about specifics on D&A tests?

      What about the omitting of file info between the VA or vice a versa? Civy care avoiding X-rays let’s say protecting VA damages, then told inner office communications between them are or may be included as part of our med files. Then on to the issues of HIPPA or then the games of being under the VA care, for profit hospital or clinic care or for profit civilian care… a lot of differences out there to consider or find out about. And seemingly what ever the VA or civilians do in some locations are totally legal or protected, excused, legal, ethical, Constitutional, or not.

      Yes, to “prevent issues” and countless other excuses while we suffer, do without and let die or in some locations harassed and prevented from health care. Trust those who’ve retaliated against so many vets to have their civy counterparts enjoy the fun activities too? And no going back to some scum sucking VA clinic or hospital while others claim… all is well, trust everything they do and claim. Who can make Secure Messaging just disappear along with other needful information. Oh and trust all those high tech services and don’t forget to sign your info away on a whim. Like they ALL don’t already have it all regardless of who or what it is.

      Guess it’s a good think you and some others haven’t yet, yet, experienced the dark side of VA care, the IT worlds under-bellies of evil and lies along with other “complexes” or machines we may be up against.

  9. For those of you in California, write Wilkie an email and invoke the California Privacy Act, which is another layer of protection. Then tell him how disgusted you are with this.

  10. The potential Constitutional violations aside, the following excerpts give me pause:

    “the Secretary may disclose the contents of a medical record with or without consent: ‘To a non-Department entity….’” and “Only community health care providers and organizations that have partnership agreements with VA and are part of VA’s approved, trusted network may receive VA health information.“

    Just who exactly are these “non-Department entit(ies)” and “organizations that have partnership agreements with VA?” DHS, FBI, BATFE???? Is this a “Chinese Backdoor” of some sort to be abused by these agencies (i.e., to improperly deny a citizen access to a firearm for a one-time, 30-day prescription for a mood altering drug for an isolated bout of anxiety), to include the denial of future healthcare by Medicare and insurance “Death Squads?”

    “The relevant section of the MISSION Act as codified in 38 USC § 7332(b)(2)(H)(i) states the Secretary may disclose the contents of a medical record with or without consent: ‘To a non-Department entity (including private entities and other Federal agencies) for purposes of providing health care, including hospital care, medical services, and extended care services, to patients or performing other health care-related activities or functions.’”

    Taken from the VA Press Release:

    “VA is committed to protecting Veteran privacy. Only community health care providers and organizations that have partnership agreements with VA and are part of VA’s approved, trusted network may receive VA health information.“

    • The key to this whole violation of our rights is the phrase: “OR PERFORMING OTHER HEALTH CARE RELATED ACIVITIES OR FUNCTIONS” which is a “catch all” steel wall behind which those boobs in the Va will scamper if questioned about their decision. I refuse to put my life in the hands of VA boobs and so should you. This catchall phrase is a quicksand for vets to step into and sink out of sight. Never, ever give a VA boobecrat the authority to decide what is in your best interest.

  11. @ Capt Bob, Your missing the point of this bob. Reading the Federal Register about the numerous disclosures allowed by this illegal action might open your eyes. More investigation by all is needed into what some perceive as good intentions on the part of the VA. The way this was rolled out and failing to give Veterans the opportunity to opt out in advance says a lot. Veterans in Oregon are calling the VA actions underhanded.
    Ben is not wrong here Bob. Ben has gotten this right.

    • As I don’t see a question, Mike, I’m not really sure how to respond. The original opt-in process was not due to HIPAA as claimed but rather due to constraints on the VA tech in 2010.

      • There is an end game for the VA to screw us and our private records. To believe otherwise is being naive. Some one in the VA is going to make money off our records being sold to outside agencies.

  12. They all use the back door of the NSA. Our government is the first ones to take away your rights and last ones to help. Its nothing more than total government control .

  13. Please continue to provide updates as this situation progresses, especially anything pertaining to legal maneuvers and/or class action lawsuits.

  14. I received my opt out/in whatever firm late yesterday afternoon in the mail. How do I sign it and return it when I know their office will be closed?
    I can’t get proper medical care or communication from my local VA, and have not since my last annual in early 2017, yet they can send me this form to arrive the day I am supposed to sign it?
    I am not playing these BS games with the VA. I will send them a secure message stating I was not properly notified and to treat my message as opting out.

    • If it’s the old form, don’t use it. If it’s the new form, sign it and send it. There is no deadline for opting out. That is in accurate information being reported. The old form is being replaced by a new form, pretty simple

  15. My knowledge of the “opt in” for sharing my medical info first came to me just days ago in an email from Benjamin. The email told of the VA’s plans regarding the opting in or out of this policy. Having never even heard of this previously, I did not have time to sign the necessary form in order to opt out.
    WHY WEREN’T VETERANS NOTIFIED OF THIS IN A TIMELY MANNER? As I stated, i NEVER EVEN KNEW ABOUT IT.

  16. A convenient way for VA to circumvent our rights and release healthcare information to law enforcement .Such as mental health records including drug and alcohol treatment records .Thus enabling weapons confiscation ? The minute VA notified me of changes to my release of information I was positive they had nefarious intentions.I have tried for years to get my complete C-file to No avail and yet now joe schmoe in some dark office in DC at some alphabet agency can , No problem ?Vet service organizations useless ,Yet again .Thanks Ben on point yet again ! Keep up the good work.Received a call from Prime care VA doc’s nurse last.month stated As I used my medicare and saw a Real Orthopedic Doc outside of Va , whom did an MRI ( of knee ) and discovered I had torn lateral cartilage as a result of VA order Physical therapy, over seven months ago , resulting in extreme pain 24/7.While at the same time VA decreasing my pain meds and not doing doing proper diagnostics ( MRI ).Docs nurse stated I violated my pain agreement as Outside orthopedic surgeon order pain med post knee orthroscopy resulting in bearable pain releive .I informed her ” ” I’m sick of your BS .Do what you do and I will do what I do such as call my senator , yet again ” Had oral surgery Friday and awaiting another call from VA concerning his script for pain meds post surgery.But Oh Yeah release of our information will be used for good only .Einstein thought this of fusion too and we all know how that turned out .

    • Oh by the way va nurse stated that since outside doc “Cured Me ” I should no longer need pain med ! Never mind the fact that both Knees are service connected , or that the other one has been injured since 1976 .That I wear bilateral knee braces .That I have osteoarthritis in all joints .That both ankles now require velcro ace wraps as they are failing .That I have been issued a lt wrist brace ( by VA ) as I have tendonitis as a result of pushing off chair arms to stand .Total left shoulder repair , reinjured to both shoulders due to knees worsening.Bad discs – ,lumbar , thoracic , and cervical. And yet this VA nurse say I must be cured after orthroscopy to 2006 rt knee injury .No wonder vets get flagged for being “Disruptive ” !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Don’t Worry we asked for our files in the past and VA even admitted that some of it may be deleted. So they can copy and paste or delete what ever they want to hide there employees.

  18. Here’s another scandal omitted from the main stream medias;
    *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/30/it-was-biggest-scam-tricares-history-now-troops-may-be-going-jail.html”*

  19. The VA is NOT the ones that are running the Exchange. The exchange is operated by a nonprofit Healtheway, Inc. meaning that they will end up storing our health information even briefly IF they delete it after sending it to the outside provider. Just how secure their system is/will remain is always a concern. This leaves our information only protected by their security measures and their personnel. Everyone was automaticly Opted In on 1 Oct 19 so signing the Opt Out form is not an issue any more.

    • They don’t actually transmit any information. It’s a peer-to-peer system. They handle the architecture of the protocol handshakes.

      You can still opt out, for whatever reason.

  20. Just like the Dem and Libs will never stop trying to destroy our freedoms and America, the VA will sell out Vets information seeking Mental Health treatment to Law to be used under the Red Flag laws to confiscate non-threatening Vets guns and even kill them in shoot outs. Don’t trust the police ever. They will do whatever the Gov says and cave to it because they have houses, bills and families to provide for. I spent 20 years in LE. They are not your friend and will jail or take you out at the slightest provocation. God Help Us!!!

  21. Nick right on. People need to start reviewing there rights many died for. I was a prior police officer and never do you have to answer your door without a warrant. They are not your friends. They want to shut all cases even at your expense and a lot of innocent people go bankrupt fighting a corrupt system. Ask General Flynn. The government said he didn’t lie, but said o well plead guilty to lying or we will go after your family. No more than the gestapo. One thing that boggles my mind is why no one bringing up the fruit of the poison es tree in this case with the dossier. That’s cj 101.

  22. I would also recommend a vpn, because your internet traffic is not secure and your information is always at risk. If your on Facebook than you probably have already given up your privacy.

  23. All thanks to the best hacker have ever met who helped me out with some
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  24. @ Ben,
    First off, thank you for the recent informative video on your Fb page. Yes folks it is a bit lengthy but it has solid info. The flier notifications were sent the way they were sent deliberately! Don’t need no pesky vets gummin’ up the works! Remember there was a time about a decade ago that this was all OPT-IN by free choice!
    “https://ehealthexchange.org/”
    “http://healtheway.us/”
    “https://sequoiaproject.org/”
    “https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/healtheway-rebrands-itself-reflect-new-mission”

    You might find these of some interest in your quest:
    From Nov 2010 here is a flyer showing the extent of intended lookey-loo allowence:
    “https://www.archives.gov/files/ogis/events-presentations/acus-veterans.pdf”
    This is undated info related to the VLER and outside blanket access to VHA records:
    “https://www.usfhealthonline.com/resources/healthcare/what-is-vler/”
    And then there is this similar info from Sentara Healthcare:
    “https://www.sentara.com/hampton-roads-virginia/patientguide/medical-records/for-veterans.aspx”
    Both inferring that veteran’s have to sign INTO the sharing process! Like with the MillionVet DNA roundup?

    Here is a link from 2015 Amazon News and VA sanitized for your protection:
    “https://s3.amazonaws.com/sitesusa/wp-content/uploads/sites/912/2016/04/VLER-Health-Program-Update-2015-12-15.pdf”
    This one might be useful if you’d like to dl the AWS Cloud Sharing Data How To Guide…:
    “https://pages.awscloud.com/GLOBAL_WWPS_LN_open-data-guide_2018116_01.LandingPage.html”
    Hmmm, just how much VA/DoD info is available to the “right” searchers on their so named open data format? Now all VA/DoD members are digital lab rats, too!:
    “https://aws.amazon.com/opendata/”
    “https://registry.opendata.aws/”
    Several VA related stories about awarded VA contracts:
    “https://www.b3groupinc.com/news/”

    There are dozens and I mean dozens of contracted companies working to get this EHR thing done yesterday.
    There are no restrictions that I find that can be activated by veteran patients to keep their information out of Amazon’s cloud and freely accessed by whomever THEY think is credible, for whatever they want to do with that information. Hellfire, the U.S.Census has stricter controls on citizens information!
    Oh! This also begs the question, re: all of the regular citizens out there, is all of their medical info hangin’ out to dry as well? Are they automatically dumped into research accessed on a whim, advertiser access, and such that veteran’s are concerned about?

    @ Flotmorton,
    Good to have your 2+ cents today! You have been missed.

    @ Angela,
    You brought up a good point yesterday when you mentioned the ridiculous amount of regs. that providers have to follow and that contributing to the lack of medical care to their patients. Do nothing… keep job, cash check! …Next!

    @ Capt. Bob,
    I went to your sparse page and saw a handful of links to others’ articles and nothing written by you. I want to make one point loud and crystal clear to you. The folks that read Ben’s blog are a diverse group, you can count on that. There have been many that have assumed we all bow down to Ben’s thoughts and I can assure you that has never been the case. Ben is a PRACTICING lawyer that has taken time out of his abundant and very busy life, to create this blog as his time allows. He doesn’t ask for much in return and greatly appreciates the input from the posters. We are grateful for an opportunity to research and freely share on a variety of topics that Ben posts for us to chime in on. Please, do not imply that we are toddlers in this venture needing your misguidance to keep us apprised on how to engage VA group-think.
    There is nothing but a piece of signed VA paper to keep honesty among the alphabets of veteran’s INFORMATION exchange keyboard clickers from VA/VBA/VHA/DoD and what other sources we’ve yet to be told. We are schooled well about how AFGE insures we never see the guilty appropriately punished for their misdeeds. What, I ask, would invoke trust that a piece of VA paper would actually have teeth enough to secure our faith in anything completely honorable about this venture, when they’ve already done sleight of hand performances?

    • Rosie,
      Thanks for your time and all the info. Not good reading or doing days for me recently.

      Lets not forget other little items/issues going on out here that people may not be concerned about or considering that goes into our info dump sites, to whomever.

      Using the fear tactics of terrorism, fear of vets, to public school safety. What business is it of liaison officers, teachers, teachers and school admin being trained in mental health issues and more to interrogate kids about their parents and family, connections. Innocent? With that and more info going out to only God knows who and to the many insider activist in any given community. Why. Or police state info gold data mining and it all goes where? That may lead to medical kidnapping, Emergency Detention orders, opening CPS files, etc. IE, is mom or dad veterans? Do they have professional degrees? Any abuse issues or spanking? What do they teach you, are they members of any hate groups.. Aryans, nationalist, white pride groups, etc. And PTSD or medical issues in the fam. What are their hobbies, TV watched, do they hunt, have any weapons in the house. Any family members on drugs or what kind of medications do they take. Is there alcohol bars in the home? All this and more is casual discussions, meaningless, private, trustworthy, etc. Point is where does all the info gathering stop? Also if our medical info isn’t safe in a corrupt community or state and told by professionals or hospital top personnel not to expect privacy or security… then we are supposed to trust or believe who. Especially in a joint where laws and protections don’t mean a thing and totally unenforceable while the population simply doesn’t care along with all the VSOs most bow to.

    • So very well said!!! Just a couple a hand-shakes is all it takes,.. (peer-to-peer); to become a non-desirable, non-insurable, higher risk, no longer allowed to own a fire-arm, and one step closer to eventually having-no-rights-at-all individual! Being able to opt out, isn’t the same right, as being allowed to educate one’s self, make a decision, and give consent to, “opt-in”, if so desired, cause’ I had a choice. Not the kind of architecture I’m fond of,….. . Sir..

    • TK, in some areas we have no rights, no warrants needed, stuff like that is just on TV.

      Angela, correct, not even the tip of the ice-berg. We are up against many things and people. A very long list of them.

      Also what about all those records that just disappear or said to have been transferred to another medical office that is just “gone” or “lost.” Happened here to me several times when MDs just up and leave an area with or without notice.

      Mike Braun? I thought so. No different from Bucshon, all the agencies contacted, Todd Young, their aids/staff, governor, etc. No help but they’ll send out requests for donations. Some areas are free to harm, suffering, kill off those in health care, at the VA, to do whatever fully protected and above the laws.

      Ignoring, gas-lighting, totalitarian rule, the aristocracy, plutocrats, commies, whatever. The below sound familiar and yes our communities and government is full of them. Either party.

      Quoted
      The purpose of official Soviet propaganda — and this, of course, would hold true for any totalitarian society — was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to intimidate and, even more importantly, to humiliate people into silence and meek submissiveness, by causing them to realize their utter helplessness against, (and thus, inevitably, their partial complicity in) the onslaught of shamelessly obvious, self-evident, triumphantly invincible lies. One permanently had to exist— at least, in any collective, marginally public setting even slightly outside the tightly narrow zone of one’s complete trust and personal comfort– in state of pretend acquiescence to ( and, worse, forced vocal support of) the openly fraudulent and relentlessly assertive, inverted “alternative” reality, whose ceaseless pressure gradually corroded and deadened one’s spirit, crippled one psychologically, caused one to become cynically apathetic and inwardly ashamed of oneself because of one’s total impotence to resist being a part, no matter how small, of that self-perpetuating irreality of infinite all-out gaslighting: that is to say the kind of person– a broken, defeated, dully obedient liar– the regime found it the easiest to control.

      Occupant of Soviet Russia.
      Unquote

      What rights and what controls over anything do we actually have? Near zero.

      • Hello T, may I ask where do you get that exceptionally well written quote from? I can’t seem to find the author, or anything on the web as to where it came from!

      • Xavier,

        I heard that a couple years ago on a RT news segment from a Marxist/Bolshevik claiming how well his family did in the USSR, their tactics, went down the list how we are totally occupied, and how “his” Marxist/Bol and communist family and party have taken over America since the thirties and before. He wrote a book on it but I can’t remember his name or title of the book. Had too much going on then. The man, the communist and of the USA Communist Party was so happy he could hardly sit still while grinning ear to ear. The closest I came to that info he mentioned and happy about I heard more recently here…
        “https://michaelsavage.com/podcast/”

        That quote alone I retyped was here… Paul Joseph Watson…
        “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw_dsjZMeqM&feature=em-uploademail”
        at mark 2:30 or 2:31.

        That younger man in the RT broadcast also seemed pleased with the works of Saul Alinsky and hated the exposure of him in the movie called “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” “http://alinskyfilm.com/” It can be found to watch for free elsewhere. That alone upset a lot of people and groups. Including the ones I was told in a judge’s chambers to leave alone and not bother with trivial small claims court issues. So I’ve kinda had my path in life created for me and taking those “roads less traveled.” Don’t tell me what people or groups to bow to, allow to run rampant over my life or be above the laws.

        Some of the posters the guy on RT news was bragging of, showing, and proud of were found here plus some more info. “https://www.sovietposters.com/” He also discussed some other murals, designs, and posters used by unions, artist, communist, academia, SDS (students for a Democratic Society) and others. One described seemed to be a spitting image of a socialist/”union strong” mural inside a local junior high school, by an artist called Gibson and his buddy being Eugene V. Debbs a local union/socialist/Marxist hero.

        Sorry for the info over-load but that’s a great part of what I and others have to deal with locally and state wide, and why so many refuse to come here with help or want any involvement with. Totally occupied.

    • Thanks Rosie for the provided links and historical info. In a technocratic society medical records of veterans are the gold standard for profits. As a old DevilDoc who took his GI Bill and got a Comp.Sci degree this is old news… And it’s gonna get worse. I also did the state & GS employment thingy too. So I’m like a buck-naked man standing on the Mall in D.C. with all my hacked records for the world to see. If you really want to know how controlled the medical industry is just ask a retired military PA.

    • @ T, Trevin Quillin, and SaltySailor,
      I am warmed that my little contribution is of some help!
      Thanks to a knowledgeable poster on Ben’s Fb, here is another very informative read, and I think it can be tied in with the Nov 2010 flyer link I posted above.
      “https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2012/05/11/2012-11485/privacy-act-of-1974-system-of-records”
      @ T,
      Yes I think you have a broad assessment in these posts to get many thinking about just what is at stake.

      Update,
      The CBS link I put up last week about civilian medical price gouging across the country is still providing new information. CBSNews Medical Price Roulette “https://www.cbsnews.com/healthcosts”
      The ACA has really done a financial BOHICA on everyday working folks, and our citizens still want to know who did what on some reality game show, while their paychecks are bleeding dollars. SMH.

  25. [Psst… if you want to know what I did to opt-out, take a close look at the highlighted portion in the Facebook Live video above of the new privacy rule.]??? I don’t use Facebook. I have been banned. So, what is the answer to OPTING OUT???

    • Ed, I have never used Facebook or Twitter. I was put on there by Ben with invite to his Voc Rehab closed group; but, that is it. These media platforms are hogwash because Zuckerberg and Dorsey uses them to harm people indirectly and underhandedly.

  26. It is disturbing. The way this roll-out of this plan, just by itself, feels corrupt. The timing of the notification, for something that had to be in the works for awhile, disallowed, I’m sure, the majority of the folks to react. And further hog-tying tactics, only physical documents being hand carried, or USPS . No electronic response allowed to stop electronic information dispersement.. really?? Then, the high speed folks, (or those lucky enough to be located close to a VA, and were not working), who filled out the form, have a document with verbage that almost sounds as if once signed, to stop the HIE, it’s almost like an acknowledgement that one is already participating and is now trying to stop it. It just simply appears that we were forced without choice. And, even if folks do get the stuff turned around if they want, it will be too late.. Who ever wanted this to happen, only needs a short time with the info release. In that flash, your info is sent. After that, the whole thing can change back to the right to privacy, consent, etc, but the flash has gone out, the files are now stored and accessable somewhere else,. to be used for whatever and however desired. “Choice”, was taken away, for sure.. But this to shall pass, right?

    • Trevin, the point is they dumped the old too. I am not enrolled with any of the new programs. I left the VA 5 years ago. They do not have any current information on me. And there is little out here now even the with private sector. Just routine blood work and annual tests. Lost around 50 pounds and still on a clay tennis court. I improved all they were kicking down the road. The VA has become a real disgrace. More of the decline started during the Obama administration. Very sad. God Bless America. 🇺🇸🗽

  27. As I wrote earlier our medical records will be on the street soon enough and then plastered all over the internet. the sequoia project will be hacked in no time flat. All you can be certain of is death and taxes.

  28. Typical Va runs like the Mafia, commands and response or else. Have seen several young doctors cower when the “man” comes in to take charge. Have seen men that needed a specific drug to stay alive, yet Va took it away forcing death or paying civilian doctors to treat the condition. It is not a rare thing it is often. This latest ruling is just one of many in the corruption going on at VA Hospitals.

  29. I am confused as to how we were/are expected to send our Opt-Out information to VA by 30 September 2019 by using a mandated form VA Form 10-10164) that did not become effective until October 2019. There appears to be no way to win.

  30. This is very disturbing. I didn’t read a thing about mental health records. Therapists put a lot of personal stuff in records. In addition, I notice a lot of copy and paste information that is absolutely incorrect. When I mention it; it is like “oh, well.”

  31. Well the VA is certainly performing to their usual (sub) standards. Just received this morning (October 2, 2019) a letter from the VA dated September 9, 2019 informing me that the VA would now be sharing my health info without my consent. Talk about adding insult to injury . . .

    Thank goodness for Ben’s Blog! One of the best ways to stay ahead of the VA’s game!

  32. They have already gave my info to a funeral home, J.B. Ryder, asking how my C&P examine went, they called my Civilian doctor and told him some things about me, I had a Civilian Chriopracter tell me he had friends at the V.A., I told him they runied my life, I then get a bogus bill from this person, there a connected, Civilian Medical, V.A. medical, and now the Corporate Companies are involved, My V.A. notes are full of lies and hidden diagnosis, just because I was in Desert Storm.

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