Medical Privacy: Not So Private

Many patients don’t realize that a physician’s ability to service the community can be suspended or retracted entirely by the DEA for their patient’s misuse or diversion of drugs.

(*)  ###  (*)

Why is this an issue for the everyday American who never intends to overdose or abuse their prescription dosage?

 

The DEA is implementing stricter and stricter regulations on physicians and their ability to provide prescriptions. They are also enforcing legal penalties for abuse of prescription drugs on the doctor who prescribed them as well as the patient who actually broke “regulation”.

For example, if a patient went to a second doctor in addition to their primary one to gain a second prescription, the DEA now uses the Prescription Monitoring Program to enforce the legal repercussions against the doctors who prescribed a medication for their patient in addition to the person who committed the crime.


(*)    The DEA’s agenda is not medical. It is political.   (*)

 

They are expecting doctors to be responsible for their patient’s actions outside of the office.

  • Why is it the doctor’s fault if a patient were to overdose on a medication?
  • Why should the doctor to go prison or lose their medical license if their patient obtained duplicate medications from another physician?

 

They shouldn’t be. They’re not cops. They’re there to provide the best health care possible. They can’t do this if the DEA puts so many barriers in their way that they’re afraid to write up a legitimate prescription that could save a life, prolong a life, or enrich one.

The DEA is the enforcing arm of this agenda, the “messenger”.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services (through the Food and Drug Administration) has the responsibility of making medical recommendations on drug related issues to the Secretary of Health based on scientific evaluations.

Beyond the medical spectrum, the Office of Diversion Control (DEA Headquarters) has expanded its department making it a primary goal to “regulate” controlled substances in hopes of decreasing drug abuse.

Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards.

All of these investigations are conducted by Diversion Investigators (DIs), a specialist position within the DEA assigned to investigate suspected sources of diversion and take appropriate criminal and/or administrative actions. Prescription Database Management Programs (PDMP) aid and facilitate investigation and surveillance.

Sometimes in an effort to solve a problem, we end up creating a new one. Sometimes with the most sincere motivations, laws do more to restrict our freedom than to protect the innocent.

(*)(*)(*)

Our privacy, protection, and freedom rely on the level of medical expertise and the direct relationship between doctor and patient access permitted within our healthcare system.

 

Fight for the future.

 

(*)  ###  (*)

Empowerment from vanow.org

 

EXERTING YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE AUTHORITY

 

How to gain authorization for controlled substances

  •  Time is still money (and more importantly, energy) in this country and if you have a prescription from your doctor for a controlled substance, there’s a chance you may be required to pick up a physical prescription from your doctor’s office (phoned-in refills are not accepted), and then be asked to show your ID at the pharmacy every time you pick up that particular refill.

Extra Note: It appears that it is the Prescription Monitoring Program who is implementing these regulations, not your insurance company and not the FDA.  In other words, there is an entirely new “faceless corporation” involved in the process of your medical healthcare.  So here’s what you can do!

  • Alternative Option: Have your doctor give you the green light for your insurance company to provide the forms that authorize your controlled substance to be mailed directly to your house – bypassing the entire pharmacy pickup process all together.
  • The pharmacies and insurance companies may use fibs and scare tactics such as “You have no prior authorization from your doctor to do this” in attempts to keep you ordering through the pharmacy.  Simply respond with, “The prior authorization is that I’ve been taking the prescription for years.”
  • In the case of a new prescription, if you get any resistance about filling the prescription as it is, simply tell them, “Fill the prescription as it is written or I will take my business to another pharmacy.  I can also always receive meds-by-mail.

Resist being upsold

    • Pharmacists may try to sell you the more expensive brand name instead of the affordable, generic form.  Don’t let them.  Have the prescription be filled as written.
    • Think carefully before providing pharmacists your business who practice the conscience-clause — for they’ve obviously chosen the wrong line of work if they cannot fill out medical prescriptions due to religious beliefs getting in the way of their job requirements.

 

MEDICAL PRIVACY

 

“Medical information is arguably the most personal and private sources of data about us. Yet privacy protections in this area are far from adequate.”  – ACLU | Medical Privacy


HOW
is your medical privacy in question?

  1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
    (The act of all medical health information going electronic via iCloud—even if your doctor feels it’s more secure to have their own copies and backups.)On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (hereafter ARRA). One of the many goals of the ARRA is to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records by doctors and hospitals. One of the most significant barriers to this process is the lack of powerful existing safeguards for patient information.
  2. The Prescription Monitoring Program is an electronic database that collects information regarding controlled substances dispensed within many states, including Virginia.  It appears that Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs, (www.pmpalliance.org) and National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (www.namsdl.org) are statewide, housed agencies that gather information about the controlled substances that your doctors prescribe for you and other medications that you may be taking.
  • The housing agency distributes data to individuals who are authorized under state law to receive the information for purposes of their profession.  For more FAQ, click here.
  • Oregon is one of the few states that has fought back successfully against the Prescription Monitoring Program.   For the first time, a federal judge has ruled that patients have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their drug prescription records, and that law enforcement must obtain a warrant in order to search such information.  Click (here) for their press release and see how they did it!  GO Oregon!!!


MEDICAL PRIVACY RESOURCES

 

~o~

In Revolution,

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP/Webmistress
Virginia NOW

(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)

Congressman Moran’s Final Women’s Issues Conference

Keynote Speaker:  Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress! 

Plus 6 interactive workshops on topics including economic equality for women, car care, international women’s issues, health care reform, interviewing skills and professional branding. This free conference will also feature health screenings and a free digital professional photo, so come dressed for success if you want a photo!

Saturday, September 13
8am-1pm
Washington-Lee High School
1301 N Stafford St, Arlington, VA 22201

This is a free event, and a light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Register here: http://moran.house.gov/about/events/womens-issues-conference

For more information contact Krysta Jones, Outreach Director, at Krysta.Jones@mail.house.gov or 703-971-4700.

SPEAKERS AND WORKSHOPS

Building Your Network and Your Professional Brand
· Dana Taylor-Intelligent Ethos, CEO
· Amanda Miller Littlejohn-Mopwater Social PR, Founder

Getting to Equality in the Workplace
· Stacye Montez-Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Executive Director
· Amanda Andere-Wider Opportunities for Women, CEO

Perfect Your Interviewing Skills in 50 minutes
· Sandy Smith- Arlington Employment Center, Transition Services Manager
· Liane H. Gould-Arlington County, Adult Services Division

Do You Understand the Affordable Care Act?
· Carlon Ocel- ENROLL Virginia, Health Care Navigator
· Jessica Killeen- ENROLL Virginia, Health Care Navigator
· Taylor Burke, JD-George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Assistant Professor of Health Law and Policy

Car Care
· Roy Krebs-Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota, Shop Foreman

International Women’s Issues
· Laurna Strikwerda-Freedom House, Program Officer

Happy GoTopless Day!

   What is GoTopless.org?

A U.S.-based organization who claim that women have the same constitutional right that men have to go bare-chested in public.   “As long as men are allowed to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.”

 

There is an annual National Go-Topless Day held intentionally on August 26th, or on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day.   In our society, men and women are supposed to have equal rights.  But women are commonly arrested, fined and humiliated for daring to go topless in public, a freedom men have had for decades.  It is patriarchy that makes women’s bodies taboo and makes women’s bodies need to be covered and controlled.  In the US, if we want to be in a culture that is better for women, we need to get over the exposure of women’s body being only sexual instead of allowing her to exist freely.  You cannot counter the “sexualized woman” by simply covering her up.

 

Women are taught from an early age that our bodies and our breasts are more taboo than a man’s – that a man mowing the lawn bare-chested in the extreme summer heat is acceptable.  A woman performing the same action would be borderline scandalous.

 

To protest this unconstitutional discrimination, GoTopless.org holds National Go-Topless Day events in cities nationwide. Thousands of women will be baring their chests that day in the name of equal rights, and we hope you’ll be there too!

 

On August 26, 1920, following a 72-year struggle, the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant women the right to vote. And in 1970, as an ongoing reminder of women’s equality, Congress declared August 26 Women’s Equality Day. But even in the 21st century, women need to stand up and demand that equality in fact – not just in words.

 

This Women’s Equality Day, celebrate and love your body!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love & Revolution!

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP
Virginia NOW
(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)

 

BeautifulWoman

TRAP Public Comment Period – Closes Thursday

We have just two days left to push back against the highly politicized targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP). The public comment period ends at midnight Thursday, July 31. Please take a few minutes to make your views known about these medically unnecessary regulations that have already resulted in two clinics closing and threaten the health and safety of Virginia women.
Click here to submit your comment.
Here are some talking points to use when writing your comment:
  • The Board of Health must completely repeal and rewrite the current regulations of women’s health centers to protect women’s health and preserve access to comprehensive reproductive care.
  • All health professions should be regulated, but these politically motivated restrictions aren’t necessary for patients’ safety. Instead, these restrictions endanger women’s health.
  • Current regulations of Virginia women’s health centers are about politics, not medicine.
  • Doctors, health care professionals, and a majority of Virginians oppose these regulations.
  • If the regulations are not repealed and rewritten, tens of thousands of Virginia women and families will lose access to critical medical care.

Thank you for taking action for the health and safety of Virginia women.

Marj Signer
Virginia NOW
Legislative VP

To comment, go to the Virginia Regulatory Town hall site: http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/comments.cfm?periodicreviewid=1316. 

Learn more:

In May, Gov. McAuliffe directed the Virginia Board of Health to conduct a review of the abortion clinic regulations designed by former Atty General Ken Cuccinelli and enforced by former Gov. McDonnell. Currently, the Virginia Dept. of Health is accepting public comments on whether to amend, repeal and rewrite, or uphold the regulations in their current form.

~o~

Click here to see available current reproductive, choice, and abortion services within Virginia. 
http://www.vanow.org/support/reproductive-choice-abortion-services

On Wednesday: “How to Elect More Women” Panel Discussion and Networking Happy Hour

“How to Elect More Women” Panel Discussion and Networking Happy Hour

Hosted by the Arlington Young Democrats Women’s Caucus
Chair Paradise Kendra and Vice-chair Michelle Woods

When: Wednesday, July 23rd 5:30-630 pm
5:30-6:30 pm Networking Happy Hour. Free Appetizers Provided.
6:30-8:30 pm Panel Discussion with Q and A

Where: Café Asia: 1550 Wilson Blvd #100, Arlington, VA 22209
Metro: Rosslyn (Orange and Blue line) Parking: Available on street and in Café Asia garage for $3

Who: Panelists include:

1.) Senator Jennifer Wexton, VA State Senator of the 33rd Senate District
2.) Senator Barbara Favola, VA State Senator of the 31st Senate District
3.) Jennifer Boysko, former and future House of Delegate candidate of VA’s 86th district
4.) Kathleen Murphy, former and future House of Delegate candidate of VA’s 34th district
5.) Yasmine Taeb, former House of Delegate candidate of VA’s 48th district

Why: It’s more than evident, we need to elect more women in this country and we need to do it now. The United States ranks 98th in the world in number of women in our national legislature. At this panel we will ask our panelist about best strategies in order to elect more women at both the state and national level. We will learn about the barriers that exist and how to combat them.

Right now there are 335 state legislative leaders, and just 60 of them are women, a total of 17.9 percent. In Virginia, only 17% of its legislative body is represented by women, compared to states like Colorado and Vermont where 41% of their legislative bodies are represented by women. Virginia leads states like Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina, which currently have the least diverse gender representation at 13% but none of this is acceptable for the 21st century.

Point of Contact: For questions contact AYD Outreach Director Michelle Woods at womenscaucus@arlingtonyoungdems.org.

The Hobby Lobby Decision

So, from now on, when you go to a job interview, remember to ask the HR folks about the corporation/company’s religious exemptions to your health insurance.

According to Reuters, Hobby Lobby did not seek exemption for all forms of birth control, only emergency contraceptives and IUDs. Justice Ginsberg sees much larger and more chaotic implications of the decision, as noted in her objection. Part of the problem is that the owners of the company don’t have to follow the science about these drugs/methods, only their “sincerely held beliefs.”

Importantly, employees can still obtain these services/medications through their insurance, just in some as yet undefined process that does not involve the employer (my bet is a separate “rider” for whatever they choose to exclude, at your extra cost).

See the Reuters article here (click).

Hobby Lobby has a page on its site devoted to its Ministry Projects, and various not really applicable historical quotations. So, how far does this collection of quotations go toward being a ministry project or the actual demonstration of “sincerity.” There is no evidence here of any practical project.

As a bar for legal sincerity that will affect the cost of health care, even its access, for women who do not share an owner’s faith, this strikes me as exceptionally low.

Further reports and analysis and educated rants at Politco, Jezebel, Bitch. I’m sure there’s more to come.

Carry on!
Simone Roberts
Web Editor / Historian
Virginia NOW

 

NSA Update: “Collect it all.”  

Some restrictions do apply.

About six months ago, I posted a long, long piece on the NSA and asked VA NOW members to contact their state and federal representatives to let them know that life in a surveillance state is not an American life. Since then, a few, little things, have changed for the better. However, that surveillance state is still intact.NSA Yes We Scan

 All oppressive authorities— political, religious, societal, parental— rely on this vital truth, using it as a principal tool to enforce orthodoxies, compel adherence, and quash dissent. It is in their interest to convey that nothing their subjects do will escape the knowledge of the authorities. Far more effectively than a police force, the deprivation of privacy will crush any temptation to deviate from rules and norms.*

Feminist activists do a great deal of dissenting and deviating. We dissent from the religious and culturally conservative agenda that is the current loudest defense of the age-old patriarchy and its values. We dissent from its enforcer, the rape culture. We dissent from those elements of capitalism that exhaust workers and families. We dissent from the classist assumption that basic good health is the province of the wealthy, and that the rest of us can just keep eating our corn-syrup infused everything, or just soda and chips. And many, many of us dissent vigorously from our government’s neo-conservative foreign policy, our sly expansion of empire, our
adventurous wars, and our combination of universal surveillance and extra-judicial killing of (anyone) American citizens. We dissent from a government that can, effectively, revoke our citizenship and maroon us in a no-woman’s land called Enemy Combatant from which country there is no known return.

Which means that, as feminists, we have a problem with the National Security Agency (and its partner agencies of HLS and cooperating internet companies) having the ability and the permission to observe us in ways that make our political associations and intentions manifestly clear before we even manifest them. This is what the collection of your meta-data means. With your meta-data, the NSA can tell who you called, when, and from all that figure out a lot about you.

 Listening in on a woman calling an abortion clinic might reveal nothing more than someone confirming an appointment with a generic-sounding establishment (“East Side Clinic” or “Dr. Jones’s office”). But the metadata would show far more than that: it would reveal the identity of those who were called. The same is true of calls to a dating service, a gay and lesbian center, a drug addiction clinic, an HIV specialist, or a suicide hotline. Metadata would likewise unmask a conversation between a human rights activist and an informant in a repressive regime, or a confidential source calling a journalist to reveal high-level wrongdoing.+

History has demonstrated again and again that just knowing that you live in a state that can record your life in this way, and threaten you with loss of citizen protections, cows most of the population into stupefied obedience and silences the most imaginative contributions to progress and human dignity. This kind of surveillance works, and works well, even if they never look at you. You begin to live and write and think as if they are looking at you, and you don’t want to be in that depth of trouble. Chapter 4 of No Place to Hide, from which I have been quoting, deals with this history, the methods of surveillance, and the normal psychological and behavioral responses humans have to them. They are dramatic.

 A prime justification for surveillance— that it’s for the benefit of the population— relies on projecting a view of the world that divides citizens into categories of good people and bad people. In that view, the authorities use their surveillance powers only against bad people, those who are “doing something wrong,” and only they have anything to fear from the invasion of their privacy. This is an old tactic. In a 1969 Time magazine article about Americans’ growing concerns over the US government’s surveillance powers, Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell , assured readers that “any citizen of the United States who is not involved in some illegal activity has nothing to fear whatsoever.” **

Given the intense surveillance of civil rights and anti-war activists, we know that to have been a dead lie.

So, hurray!, the NSA has been ordered by Congress to stop collecting meta-data of phone calls made by and to US citizens. It’s the law.  This is a worthy revision to the powers granted by the PARIOT Act.

So it’s something, but it’s really nothing.

The UK newspaper, The Guardian (which has been challenging over-bearing governments for over 200 years), publishes most of the best work on the NSA because Glen Greenwald was a reporter with them when Edward Snowden contacted him. Two recent articles clarify the state of the surveillance state.

 By a substantial and bipartisan margin, 293 to 121, representatives moved to ban the NSA from searching warrantlessly through its troves of ostensibly foreign communications content for Americans’ data, the so-called “backdoor search” provision revealed in August by the Guardian thanks to leaks from Edward Snowden. ++nsa_inside

So, the NSA can’t look right at your meta-data, nor can it look at you just because you know someone who lives in Libiya.

But, it can still do even worse than that.

 But exactly one year on, the NSA’s greatest wound so far has been its PR difficulties. The agency, under public pressure, has divested itself of exactly one activity, the bulk collection of US phone data. Yet while the NSA will not itself continue to gather the data directly, the major post-Snowden legislative fix grants the agency wide berth in accessing and searching large volumes of phone records, and even wider latitude in collecting other kinds of data.

There are no other mandated reforms. President Obama in January added restrictions on the dissemination of non-Americans’ “personal information“, but that has not been codified in law. The coalition of large internet firms demanding greater safeguards around their customers’ email, browsing and search histories have received nothing from the government for their effort. A recent move to block the NSA from undermining commercial encryption and amassing a library of software vulnerabilities never received a legislative hearing. (Obama, in defiance of a government privacy board, permits the NSA to exploit some software flaws for national security purposes.) ***

The provisions that force software and internet companies to insert backdoors in their encryption and security systems (this includes your banking and health records), that even infiltrates anonymizers like Tor, yeah that’s still totally intact. NSA can still sneak around back that way, and with much less restriction than has recently been applied to your cell phone. These backdoors make your computer, and your bank, and our whole national security apparatus MORE VULNERABLE to malicious hackers because weakened encryption is weakened encryption. More deliberately, the NSA was aware of the Heartbleed bug, and used it to assist its own hacking operations for a couple of years.

You really do have to wonder about the ethical code driving this organization: collect it all, by any means necessary.

It’s change without change.

The NSA is still doing all manner of bulk surveillance of whole national populations. More the rule for over-riding this new restriction is as low as “reasonable suspicion” which is nothing near as strong as the “probable cause” that comes to mind when we think of “search and seizure.” As Greenwald puts it in No Place to Hide, let’s say your pizza deliverer is new immigrant to the US from a nation that harbors, or just can’t kick out, known terrorist groups or radical clerics. Say his mosque in the US is giving money to Boko Haram, but he doesn’t know that, and you don’t know that, and the NSA does. But, he gets lost on the way to your house and calls you from his cell phone for directions. Boom. You are now, and possibly forever, captured in the two-degrees net, the collection system just automatically logging your call activity for the foreseeable future. There is almost no way for you, innocent citizen, to know which of your business or social interactions might get you swept up in the data dragnet.

And, if any of that pattern is interpreted by an algorithm or a human to constitute “reasonable suspicion” that you are up to some kind of dissent/no-good, a warrant can be gained that allows the NSA to put a “tap” on your phones, your computer, and your computer’s or phone’s camera and microphones and use all that to observe you whether you are using the machines or not, and whether you turn the machines on or not. The NSA can – I am not making this up – turn your cameras on and watch and listen to you whenever they like once they have that warrant. The PowerPoint slides in Greenwald’s chapter 3 are fascinating.

But, you know, not to worry really. BECAUSE IT DOESN’T EVEN WORK (as a method of terror prevention, as advertised). CBS DC reported in January 2014 on a study by the New America Foundation that found:

 … the bulk collection methods used by the NSA under Section 215 of the Patriot Act appear to have played an identifiable role in, at most, 1.8 percent of the terrorism investigations.

 “Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group,” reads the report.

Spy-pus

NROL-39 is a surveillance satellite.

The only result toward which this kind of surveillance is effective is to coerce as many people (on Earth) as possible to leave the status quo and the agendas of the elite and power    roll along without our pesky interference. So, Virginia NOW is asking you to keep these issues in mind. Check in with The Guardian from time to time. Their US edition has  devoted a whole department to the NSA. The Atlantic and Salon have also done some excellent original reporting on issues of security and surveillance.

We also ask that you consider, again, writing to your representatives. You can find their contact information on our Represent page (click here, scroll down). Writing your own letter, in your own words, is the most effective way to get the staff’s attention and get your opinion counted.

Only imagine this: a future in which a conservative as tenacious and aggressive and paranoid as Representative Issa or J. Edgar Hoover is the POTUS, and she or he decides that,  say, pro-choice organizations need to be observed more closely because liberals are notoriously tolerant of Muslims. Sadly, that is the level of reasoning many conservatives display lately. The level of reasoning that had the FBI watching Ernest Hemingway, a surveillance program that is now seen as helping to drive the Nobel Prize winner to suicide in 1969. Now imagine that a largely conservative Intelligence Committee agrees with that POTUS. Is that impossible? No, not at all. Is it the most American thing in the world to assure ourselves and future generations that it does not happen? Yes, yes it is.

Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the local police need a real, written, signed warrant to search your cell phone in the event of your arrest or suspicion. This decision, now this might eventually have some meaningful impact on surveillance. But, that is yet to be seen.

Feminism and feminists do mean to change the world in deep and permanent ways. The State is not fond of that idea, and will use both surveillance and force (as we saw with Occupy) to prevent it. Act up. Speak out.

Carry on, people!

Dr. Simone Roberts

Web Editor / Historian

Virginia NOW

 

Sources

*Greenwald, Glenn. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Kindle Locations 2346-2349). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

+Greenwald, Glenn. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Kindle Locations 2039-2043). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

**Greenwald, Glenn. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Kindle Locations 2492-2498). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

++ Ackerman, Spencer. House of Representatives moves to ban NSA’s ‘backdoor search’ provision TheGuardian.com, Friday 20 June 2014.

*** Ackerman, Spencer. Edward Snowden, a year on: reformers frustrated as NSA preserves its power.TheGuardian.com, Thursday 5 June 2014.

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