Lawsuit Seeks To Stop Veterans Affairs From Sharing Health Information Without Consent

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Blue Water Navy Veterans Lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE – VA will not be allowed to share veterans’ health information without consent if a lawsuit filed by Attorney John Wells on behalf of Military-Veterans Advocacy and three veterans is successful.

The lawsuit seeks to challenge a recent policy change and also requests a temporary restraining order to stop the agency from moving forward with the new privacy policy until the lawsuit is decided.

The case number is 19-CV-2956, and it is assigned to Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth. The hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order is set for today at 11:30 AM EDT before Judge Christopher R. Cooper.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order against Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to stop implementation of the agency’s decision to share veterans’ health information without consent.

The agency previously followed industry norms requiring written consent from the veteran prior to sharing health information. The new policy automatically opts veterans into sharing their private health information with a Health Information Exchange managed by a third party called Healtheway, Inc, dba The Sequoia Project.

An estimated 2 million veterans received notices by US Mail, on or about September 26, 2019, of the agency’s sudden policy change, effective September 30, 2019, giving veterans only a couple of business days to respond, opt-out, or seek guidance from agency officials about privacy rights.

Many veterans feel that this is yet another example of overreach on the part of the VA in an effort to undermine the Constitutional Rights of veterans.

Assisting Attorney Wells are the veterans’ rights advocates Attorney Brian Lewis of Francis White Law, PLLC and Attorney Benjamin Krause of Krause Law, PLLC.

Please direct all press inquiries to Benjamin Krause at (612) 888-9567. Brian Lewis can also be reached with questions about the litigation at (651) 829-1503.

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28 Comments

    • All the new legislation enacted by the President has not assisted in my situation. The VA current laws are already harming me. With this action, who actually knows what the outcome would be? One point, though, I am not sure why they even sent me a notice because I left the VA close to 5 years ago. I do not use any of the VA healthcare programs. I am not eligible due to mileage. I quit fooling with them because all they wanted to do was devalue, sabotage, and demean. Ben, the VA Secretary is totally uninformed. Thanks to you, Ben, and your attorney partners. Best.

      • Benjamin, I have often wondered something. Any eyes can read. Do not care. Actually, a couple of points and not that it matters today but it might be linked. When they followed through with my 100% rating, they left the evidence out of the write-up. They even stated this in the compensation letter that they did not include the information. Now fast forward by years for someone new to look at this, may this be a problem in today? Though, there is written proof and it exists with me and even other institutions outside of the Navy. I am not so sure the VA in the past ever bothered to actually get the information. It really seems there is a big disconnect in the people (VA) as the years passed from the people who witnessed me during the end of my active duty time and the years shortly thereafter.
        Reason why I say this is a few comments were made to me by a service officer and even a VA physician in the years after my being retired from the Navy with questioning my rating. At the time of retirement from the Navy, all of this was handled by DAV and others because I was not able to. People today cannot comprehend this today. See my pt. I realize in the more recent years the VA has been just a continued war zone from the real active duty war zone for many veterans. All of this I am speaking to is why the actions by Secretary Robert Wilkie? Why? Why do they reject success? Could they have not entered the rest of the documentation in my award letter because they wanted to hide my actual functioning state? With how the Navy exited me? So they could later yank some of the compensation amount? Denied transfer of VEAP to Montgomery GI Bill. Denied Chapter 31 forever begin. Denied care or delay medical care in the recent years. I had even applied for employment with them. The VA refused to hire me. Not even eligible for the new healthcare the Trump legislation at all. I am not sure what they want honestly. Wilkie is perturbed because vets are not in the VA; but, yet, he chooses to send all the vet records with the vets to the health care exchanges. He is claiming vets are committing suicide because they are not in the VA; but, then, he sends them to the exchanges. I left the VA because of no action. Then, they put me in the without consent status and I am not even getting care in the VA. Honestly, I do not get it at all. Why would I ever want to apply for employment with them or get care from them? Look at this. I honestly do not believe anyone would. See this. Is there a reason that I am not aware of? I truly do not understand. I am just commenting. Just seems like the goal is to take out me and other vets. Who knows? I have my employment agenda going. Maybe one day the VA will do the right thing. Thanks again Ben.

  1. Well Ben, hopefully the law suit will fly and maybe with some bite to it. However, it’s a bit too late for countless number of us out here.

    We’ve had to sign, forced to sign, all kinds of releases of information for many reasons. Some releases with zero effects or promised helps to come along with the release forms. Which also means ALL information, ALL. Some of those release forms or agreements TRYING to find a MD or health care some of those contracts were so idiotic and stupid I signed them VI Coactus, with the dots, and name. Then hear remarks like “oh you’re a smart guy for signing like that,” or “difficult,” etc. And told some I was forced to agree and sign under duress or coercion to simply see a MD or clinic. Who would sign forms stating they can sue us but we can’t sue them for anything, and states limited access to our records or insider communications to try to uncover some trouble makers or liars for retaliation or their activism. How many lawyers, prudent lay people, sign such a document? Bad enough signing forms that release everything to anyone or being told by hospital or clinic staff not to expect security or privacy?!!!! Laws made up-stairs may not, do not, apply down here at the bottom.

    How is it we can sign and try to contact law makers or the like only to discover info or complaints have been put out into a communities or state’s grapevine for particular idiots, politicians to activist to devour. Promises of contacts to come that never happen then told no complaints or discussions were made.

    It’s like my complaints and informing the fearless leaders about my needing and will record every communication made over any issue especially over the VA, corruption, retaliations, politicians, staffers, etc. Since noone out there can be trusted or speak insanely then others claim ‘oh they’d never say or act that way.’ Then by-golly ordinances are passed disallowing recordings or electronics in places like hospitals at times, or like in a court house or police station. Areas where we need to protect and defend ourselves. To the newer fads of us not allowed to know or ask about health care workers real names or why their ID tags are always hidden or ID photo hidden. Then calls making fun of certain things and situations. Or an invite from a scum-sucking corrupt, two-faces city councilman that’s been on my ass for years due to ID politics and/or over simple disagreements or over issues like term limits or nepotism that makes me an enemy of the state. With a spouse working and has harassed me from the hospital and all can act above the law, and make sure I know they know everything in my health care records and checks. Nice huh? And we all know, or should, that there is a long list of people, institutions, the machine, groups, that we are never supposed to dare question or try to stand-up to. While they are the ones screaming and whining about being victims or targets of hate. BS.

    How will these laws or stoppages affect any outcomes or changes? The more things are claimed to change the more they remain the same or go under-ground out of sight. Or by wordsmiths and loop holes some will find ways around such changes like we’ve seen before. How will this help younger vets or those harmed when we can’t even get basic human rights or Constitutional rights help or upheld? Either by attorneys refusing to get involved or prevented by costs. You can’t dodge LEO’s background checks and requirements or about pharmacy checks due to the war on drugs, etc.

    At the least someone is trying to do something. While the public and VSO and politician to media turn their nasty ugly corrupt heads.

    TY.

  2. All I can say about this is, it’s great attorneys are taking up this issue. And, when has the VA ever complied with laws 100% of the time? Answer: NEVER!

  3. VA doesn’t adhere to VA Policy’s.

    No accountability. Vets are a digit.

    VA = Veteran Assassinarer’s.

  4. My belief Veteran Affairs Administration should improving if your 100 percent should get to any Medical Centers you want to go to so Veterans bug the shit out of our Senators and Representatives and have Benjamin Krause his Staff and Friends on this website can’t on you Veterans keep don’t Surrender Semper Fi.

  5. I sent a secure message stating I do not consent to sharing any of my VA health records outside the VA.
    I made clear I received their notice on the late afternoon of September 30, which was not proper notification of this change.
    The response I got was to stop by the ROI office and specify what records I do not want shared and sign a form.
    I am not playing their fucking games. They have been informed. I see no reason to jump through their hoops when what they are doing is illegal.
    Any other federal agency making a lesser change would be required to provide advance notice of the change, a public comment period and a review period before even getting close to making the change.
    Getting a friggin letter the afternoon before they make the change is bullshit.

  6. Thanks Ben. I do want to know if it is legal/lawful for the VA’s community care providers to recruit Veterans to sign VA Form 10-0485. As I reported on your blog on the stories covering this matter, this happened to me on September 18, 2019 @ Providence Medical Center (Dr. Gunasekera).

    I believe her actions were illegal, especially since she was aware I was unable to read this form, misrepresented the purpose for signing this form, and filled in my personal information after I had signed the form.

    I don’t know how many Veterans have had this experience, if the VA is sponsoring this recruitment effort or if the Dr. Gunasekera is doing this on her own.

    Is the lawsuit going to address how this OPT-IN Form 10-0485 is being used or if it is even legal for community community care providers to collect this information?

  7. This is the first I am finding out about this.. I DO NOT WANT MY PERSONAL INFORMATION, MEDICAL RECORDS or anything else shared by the V/A for any reason without my written consent…

    We need to find out where and WHO to contact about this now.

  8. Who or Why did only 2mil Veterans get a notice of the policy change. There are 4 veterans in my household & none of us got any notice.

  9. Thanks Ben!
    Most of the time I consent for my records to be shared with my VA provider by the non-VA provider at the time of the initial appointment. However, yes the records sharing system needs to improve as it is slow at transferring our medical record and this interferes with getting necessary medical treatment, but only after consent! However a lot of the time, the problem is due to the compatibility of both the VA and the NVA providers’ record sharing systems.

    The VA is always engaged in “All or Nothing” thinking! It’s either or bad or all good, when in reality how often is that ever the case? Just saying

    Peace out

  10. I have not gotten a notice yet from VA about this. From reading on this, and maybe I am not understanding it all yet. It won’t affect me, unless I use a care provider outside of the VA, which presently I don’t. I’m sure there are other vets in the same boat as me, so our concern(s) should be that it is unnecessary to share our information unless or until we give consent.

  11. Thank you Ben.
    Honestly, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie should have displayed a greater deal of pride in his role of being the leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For him to be a Lt. Colonel, he is shirking his responsibility of and his representation of an American Military leader. His actions that he displayed here firmly exhibit that he stands for no one but himself. I would not like to be fighting a war under him. He would not stand with me to fight against all enemies. He would leave me to die as he would other military troops. He is not a General Mattis. Ben, the issue here is the data analytics / medical information data sets are not protected with high measures of cybersecurity. This is the problem. Actually, this is a big problem throughout the country. From nuclear power data sets -analytics to new yet to be patented research to new statistical data modeling…there is so much corruption and with this action Mr. Wilkie is increasing the devastation in my opinion. Not only among vets but also among quality citizens who have absolutely nothing to do with the VA.

  12. As it should. There never should have been the need for the lawsuit to start with as this clearly violates the HIPPA laws.

    • Dan, I agree. This lawsuit should not be having to happen. I would love to hear the VA leadership reasoning as to the WHY they are choosing to violate the HIPPA Laws? I would love to know. Maybe the attorneys can open up the VA leadership to speak to truth for once.

    • HIPPA laws like others are a joke. State’s Health and Human Services informed me that such laws or enforcement depends on some things. It’s not collective punishments, across the board, like our being refused pain meds or muscle relaxers, use of oxygen, cause others aren’t responsible enough for use, etc. Or some groups of vets or individuals being treated or “ordered” to do things totally different from others, which seems to be okay for the multitudes.

      HIPPA depends on the hospital or type of care entity. Not for profit or non-profit, or company for profit health care groups. Out-patient or in-patient issues. Out-patient may not be the same or have the same coverage’s as in-patient care. Private physician care or some clinics care or are they under the umbrella of some larger hospital’s complex, or who owns what. Like who actually owns something or a college like IU medical colleges or health care units. Or, who they are all joined at the hip with. May or may not be college owned and no way to find out, no questions or info allowed. See the game and buck passing? As worthless as those “Patient Rights and Responsibility” posters that line VA walls.

      Will Ben’s and others attempts also be like this? There will be different laws for some. Like those secretive communications (inner-office communications, their eyes only) between the VA, a hospital or some MD and staff treating us, or clinic that “may or may not be” included upon any release of records to us or others? “Do no harm,” zero real transparency, to who to trust these days and what is hidden in those files or “inner office communications”. Retaliation notes for the cause? How many people have been informed of this or told to sign those agreements including the above for care? Things may or not be included? Depends on location, location, locations and who rises to be above the laws and ethics. Who will be the enforcers? While legal aid is too costly for most of us or time limits up.

      If we do happen to need to release our info for some serious health care issues at the VA, civy care, or violations of rights to some authorities, congress critters, senators, etc., it would seem some real action would be forced ‘by laws’ to take place instead of treated like a hot potato then turned into public enemy number one in some corrupt community and state. Who and how many, activist included, have access to our files when contacting and releasing our info to them? Another point being we have zero controls about what is put in or omitted from our files or what is happening behind closed doors, ever. But all those upper levels of the schemes of life sure can circle their wagons to protect each other and using little know laws or info to aid them, plus the networks of thugs. Just like with law enforcement or others who demand we sign the papers for care or back-ground checks. I see no way around that especially since being told by VA staff that the Pentagon, Homeland Security, etc., has total control over us and anything about us without limitations. HS is over everything and in everything.

      Maybe some rider laws or addendums should apply. Allowed recordings, or forced, by us or installed in health care entities of all kinds be required to video tape sessions and all things told to us in any orientation meeting, group or individually… by strict laws covering. In this high tech world should be easily done. We all need and some dearly want or demand everything be recorded or on file for defense purposes. Too much transparency for VA staff? Raise a little hell and try to expose things the all of a sudden we aren’t allowed to know real full names of civy care staff, then to no recordings in hospitals, in a court house, in courts, in judges chambers, police stations, politicians, staffers, etc., don’t want recorded, no electronics allowed around them? How funny and one sided since when out we are near constantly monitored, on camera, taped.

      How about gag orders or privacy documents (for life) to be signed by insurance company staff, contractors, to anyone working in the health care fields, to the lying politicians staffers, cleaning ladies and college kiddies with access when it comes to security and privacy rights? Military does it and the Epstein like clubs surely had non-disclosure documents/contracts or be sued to hell and back or dead. Even LEOs or HLS. Leak info to whomever then bring out the well used rope or long prison sentences.

      • One very tiny very rare news report that exposes some things, or how it is in some locations. Might help some truth seekers ask more questions about why we may not have access to all information and from just who especially those joined at the hip to the VA, contractors, etc.

        Also about lying corrupt “non-profits” that seem to profit very well. Until toes might be stepped on or too much greed pops up or the funds not washed well enough.

        My oh my, who owns just what? Questions not allowed, none, especially by those we’ve been threatened with stating they rule the medical empire in some states/communities and college towns or with some “non-profit” hospital or clinic. Understand? See why many don’t allow any stepping stones or investigations that may expose any form of corruption, abuses, retaliation networks, etc??

        The kind of people we may deal with medical boards or higher levels who simply don’t care or rarely in their offices with staff allowed to play with our info and any investigations or reports. Kinda like how easy it is for politician’s aids/staffers, hospital heads, the VA to mis-use and abuse our info to protect their own. Why MSM refuses to report on some issues especially those at the VA to “community care” types.

        Some IU Health Board Members Get $40K For 6 Hours Of Work A Week;
        “https://indianapublicmedia.org/news/some-iu-health-board-members-get-40k-for-6-hours-of-work-a-week.php”

        Someone stepped on the wrong toes or didn’t share enough of their ill-gotten gains with certain groups or cliques. And to think these “medical or research’ universities demanding ‘group-think’ and our silence are building, have, faster computers so claimed that can out-process and hold more info on people, patients, test rats, etc., than the gubberment has?

    • No it doesn’t violate HIPAA. Sending records to outside providers that treat you is not a HIPAA violation. This whole BS about sending records to everyone is garbage – that is not what the VA is doing. Ben is getting everyone worked up about this crap and playing like they stopped this – they didn’t stop this – the VA stopped it because the system was not ready- not because of a lawsuit.
      Its funny how many of you whine and complain about the VA, you want to be treated on the outside. You get what you want but then don’t want those outsiders to have your records?? Most outside providers won’t treat you without your records – so by opting out you are delaying your care because the VA can’t send your info the the provider and the provider won’t treat you.
      There are many hospitals that share your info. Just this weekend, I was at a Novant hospital in the ER and they told me how the VA will have my record by Monday. They all share and its for your benefit.
      I notice my other posts have all been deleted- because they don’t want the truth.

  13. what irked me was the THREE forms that had to be submitted to totally clear their hurdles. One form had to cover a gap between Oct 1, and the 3rd week of Oct, and another bridged a false & unnecessary overlap/gap.
    Plus, I’m sure they plugged in some thumb drives, and already harvested ALL the info on all our surviving Veterans’ records, anyway, and this phoney triple application dance is just a big show of CYA. GRRRR

  14. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Mr. Krause! Here is another jewel in the their crown, DAV sent a petition letter saying they are going to survey women vets about why they don’t use va as much as men. “Only 22% women use va health care compaired to 28% of men”. Holy smokes! Hello!! If that isn’t enough proof that va healthcare is a farce, I dont know what. It should be closed. Austin TX va is being commanded by an indian mafiosa, my husband calls it. You don’t go see the head specialty person, you aren’t going to get necessary medicine. and it doesnt matter who you write to or talk to. You won’t break thru that chain. And they attempted those insulin shots on me, didn’t work on me though, thank the good Lord! Thank God I have a great civilian physician who does not treat me with such contempt like the veterans adversary.

  15. If the U.S. government legislated that every U.S. citizen would henceforth be required to share their personal health care info and history through the Health Information Exchange (HIE) unless they opted out, there would be anarchy! Yet, in clear violation of HIPAA, nine million veterans have been forced into that situation, thanks to Congress’ brain child, The Mission Act. Yet, they are barely making a peep. In large part, I attribute this to the fact that the VA notice, dated 09/09/2019, informing veterans of the imminent release of our health care info through the HIE, didn’t even get delivered to some of us until after the alleged deadline to opt out (09/30/2019) had already passed; I received my notice on 10/01/2019, more than three weeks after the date on the notice itself, and the day following the alleged deadline to opt out. Is it that logistically challenging to get mail on such a vital issue out to vets in a timely fashion or could this delay have perhaps been deliberate, considering that the information release date was originally scheduled, to the best of my knowledge, for 11/20/2019 or 11/22/2019? A copy of the opt-out form was not included with the notification, the form number was not given and a reference was made to a VA website where vets were supposed go and hunt for it themselves. Granted, it was not too difficult to find it once you got there.

    I believe that our VA healthcare information may already have been hacked, not just our personally identifying information as we were told by the VA. I believe that our healthcare information continues to be breached, as I am continually being targeted with online ads, spam email and spam phone calls for goods and services related to health issues I experience but which I have never written about on social media or researched on the web. Once, just two days after I had had a procedure, ads started popping up for me about possible remedies for the ramifications of that type of procedure!

    Tri-West, which now handles community care, demands a bi-annual written assessment/report from mental health care providers whom veterans see outside of the VA. If these reports and the survey results (see next paragraph) end up on the HIE, they could potentially also be accessed and shared by law enforcement down to the local level, or by any other party with “a need to know”, and potentially be used to put veterans under surveillance, to detain and question them, to deny them the right to possess weapons or the ability to obtain certain substances, goods and services, or to travel freely and, even, to deny treatment.

    There is a reason that I never responded to multiple solicitations to participate in the Million Veteran Program (MVP) survey which began in 2011 and is ongoing. According to the VA, the purpose of the MVP is to collect genetic, clinical, lifestyle and military exposure information so researchers (which researchers?) can use it in approved studies (approved by whom?) in order to better understand the role of genes in health and disease, specifically among veterans and their families (their families?). This seems a bit far-reaching. 775,000+ vets have already responded. Whoever responded to the MVP survey can opt out of having their information released via the HIE all they want; that survey info is already out there, forever.

    There is no such thing as an unhackable database or retractable data. It’s all damage control now. Although I will still not cooperate in the further dissemination of any of my information, I already believe that it’s too little, too late and that the die has been cast.

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