VA to Share Veterans’ Information Without Consent

| September 29, 2019

According to DisabledVeterans.org, the Veterans Affairs is planning to share veterans’ health information without their consent.

Thousands of veterans were alarmed to learn VA is quietly rolling out is plan to automatically share veterans’ health information with third parties without written consent.

You got that right. Thanks to the VA MISSION Act, VA will now automatically enroll, or opt-in, all veterans into a health information sharing system with numerous government agencies and private organizations after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.

This objection in writing takes the form of VA Form 10-0484

Veterans must submit the VA Form 10-0484 in person or by mail to their local VA Release of Information office by of September 30, 2019, if they do not want to be “automatically enrolled” into the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia Project.

You either have to submit the form in person or by mail – you cannot do it electronically.

As one would expect, the comments section for the article has exploded.

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SIDENOTE:  If it makes any difference to people reading this – the article’s author, Ben Krause – is a lawyer and major part of the “VA is Lying” effort along with Ronald Nesler.   The “VA is Lying” effort, spearheaded by Ron Nesler, locked horns with TAH when TAH exposed their spokesman, Roger Gagnon, as a deserter.  We merely asked if he was the best person to speak for their group.  Nesler and others claimed they would support Gagnon to the end of time if need be but managed to oust him in about 10 days when Gagnon complained about what he claimed was Nesler’s shady accounting practices with “VA is Lying.”   We told “VA is Lying” that Roger was a scorpion and eventually turned on everyone that tried to help him, but they didn’t believe us until they got stung – and that didn’t take long at all.

Small world.

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Category: Veteran Health Care, Veterans Issues

Comments (39)

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  1. dave drake says:

    This is insanity. How does this NOT violate HIPAA? I checked out a few other readings on this. How are they circumventing HIPAA??

  2. I’m glad the va wouldn’t accept me back in 2007 when I was in Cobra.

  3. Old NFO says:

    Yep HIPAA violation. Discussed this with the local clinic, and they have seen a run of us old farts coming in to sign that form to prevent our data being shared.

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    Whether you agree or don’t agree, every tee tiny piece of information about you is out there for anybody than wants to find it. The old saying about if more than one person knows something, it is no longer a secret is still so very true. My health care providers pretty much told me if I didn’t agree to the sharing of the information, I wouldn’t receive “proper, complete care.”

    It should be obvious to all by now that Big Brother is alive and well and is referred to as the innerwebz. And remember, we have Al Gore to thank for it.

  5. Perry Gaskill says:

    Embrace the suck.

    One of the problems I have with this is the same problem I had yesterday with the New York City speech police. Some unidentified VA bureaucrat listens to the good-idea fairy, and implements policy with no accountability.

    The policy setting for personally identifiable information should always default at opt out. If the VA data needs to be shared, it should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and left up to the individual veteran to opt in. The VA flyer about the benefits of sharing data also doesn’t cut it:

    Sharing your health information saves you time, and improves your health. By having all of your information available, your providers will have a more complete picture of your health history to better inform treatment decisions.

    Or this gem:

    Rest assured. Your health information is safe and secure as it moves from VA to participating community care providers. VA uses a secure network called the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE) to protect and easily share in real-time your health information.

    For those who might have short-term memory loss about the hazard of giving a low-level clerk access to vast amounts of sensitive information, I have two words: Bradley Manning.

    Those with an even longer memory might also remember back in 1999 when Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” A statement which remains as arrogant and stupid now as it was then, but is considered a mantra by those who worship big data.

    Anyone who spends any time hanging out on, say, Slashdot or Ars Technica is probably also aware that the IT realm can be notorious for building stuff because it can, and not because it should. Unintended consequences become ignored in the presence of a clever algorithm. In the absence of a better explanation from the VA, I’d venture this is exactly what’s going on with the new privacy policy.

  6. AW1Ed says:

    “…after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.”

    Electronic filing is not allowed, but snail mail or hand carry is just fine.

    As long as you get it a VA Information Office by COB tomorrow.

    Nice.

    • Perry Gaskill says:

      A grim irony here is that Benjamin Krause and the crew at disabledveterans.org are based in Minneapolis, and have been working with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center to try to get some answers. If there’s a problem, and apparently there is, a logical next step under normal circumstances would be to take the problem to a local congressional representative for resolution. But who is the local congressperson in Minneapolis? Ilhan Omar.

      Good luck with that…

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    I got that notice the beginning of September, looked for something to return so that I could copy it, and there was nothing: no return form, no nothing. Just a general letter with nothing to indicate it was even addressed to me, not even an adhesive self-sticking label, and no deadline to return it. So how is someone supposed to respond to this when there is nothing provided to use as a response form. I see NO deadline mentioned for response in what was sent to me, either.

    Yeah, it does violate HIPPA, and I’ll take this piece of junk with me when I go get my flu shot this fall, but this is not how things are done anywhere.

  8. Bubblehead Ray says:

    This paragraph on the revocation form seems to indicate that, at one time or another, participating veterans signed a waiver allowing the sharing of this information. Nowhere does it indicate that information will be shared without specific authorization unless the revocation form is signed.

    🤷🏼‍♂️

    “3: I understand that information already exchanged between both parties prior to this revocation will continue to be used as discussed in the authorization I signed when I elected to participate in this electronic exchange of my individually-identifiable health information.”

  9. Sapper3307 says:

    My MP/wife just printed copy’s for us.

  10. Cameron Kingsley says:

    I think for this case, the question “what could possibly go wrong?” should be changed to “what can’t go wrong?”

  11. Mustang Major says:

    The sharing of health information with health and life insurance companies is quite common. My sister worked in the industry and gathered information on applicants for insurance companies.

    I suspect the change in VA policy came about through insurance industry lobbyists.

    Here is a basic article on the subject:

    https://www.healthinsuranceproviders.com/do-health-insurance-companies-share-information-about-their-clients/

  12. 26Limabeans says:

    So that’s what the letter from the VA was about.
    Got it a couple weeks ago and figured it was
    just another yearly disclosure about PII rights
    blah blah blah. Maybe I should have read all
    six pages of microscopic print.

    There is a similar thing in Maine that I opt out
    of in writing (form ) and attach a copy of the
    fourth amendment to it. “to be secure in your
    papers”. I guess they don’t use paper anymore
    so theres that going for them.

  13. Steve1371 says:

    The one I got is still sitting in my pile of stuff. I had no idea this is what it meant.

  14. SFC D says:

    I’m fairly confident that you don’t have to deploy in order to be eligible for disability. But, you know best, with all your experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, “service-connected”… too many VA rats defined that as “combat-related” and questioning evidence about whether an RPG-caused injury met the that criteria. (Requiring a recognized medal with “V” device for the event will be next.)

  15. STGCS Ret says:

    I received my notice Thursday had no idea today was the deadline to opt out – I was busy this weekend thought I would dig into it soon but I guess I am an idiot for not reading it sooner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why they sent it out so late.

    • Sally says:

      There is no deadline, you can opt out at anytime by filing a VA form 10-10164. The previous forms VA 10-0484 & 10-0485 were retired Sep 30, 2019. Just so you know, your data is only shared with providers that have patterned with the VA and ONLY if they are providing you care. There is much confusion and bad info being circulated unfortunately. Accurate information and the new forms can be found at http://www.va.gov/vler

  16. Comm Center Rat says:

    “You think you’ve private lives
    Think nothing of the kind
    There is no true escape
    I’m watching all the time

    I’m elected electric spy
    I’m protected electric eye”

    Electric Eye by Judas Priest, 1982

  17. Anonymous says:

    All that VA asking about how many guns you and your family members own? How much money you and all your family members make? That gets shared now.

  18. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Sounds like someone’s in need of some vagasil…

  19. Duane says:

    So because the Army did foot surgery on me before you were probably a twinkle in mommy and daddy’s eyes, I shouldn’t be able to claim disability? Go back to your porta-potty where you belong and fuck yourself as you so strongly state. I hear that Pamprin works wonders for your menstrual cramps HM.

  20. Ginger says:

    So I’m a bit mixed on this. I understand the intent — God knows “community care” AKA “private care” is usually a hell of a lot better than what you can get at the VA, and it’s safer for a treating physician to have access to a full medical history BUT if we can’t trust OPM with our @#$^ bio and clearance info, then how in the Hell do they expect us to trust them with this? I even say this, having worked with the VA Information Assurance team some years ago. Good people — several of them vets, themselves, but determined hackers are going to get the information they want, regardless of safeguards.

    Also of note: The original form 10-0484 first mentioned in the article originated back with the advent of the eHealth system and the ACA insurance exchanges, circa 2011, with revision in 2012, if I’m recalling correctly. This would seem to indicate that the data is already out there, for reference by the insurance companies involved in the exchanges. So, if you are using the HealtheVet system to make appointments or arrange prescriptions, you already opted in for this. It would seem that they consider this roll out as an expansion of this system?

    There is a new form, 10-10164, that is “Opt-Out of Sharing Protected Health Information Through Health Information Exchanges (HIE),” Dated October 2019. This, according to what I read, is to release information to community care providers who have access to the system, managed by a third party. It would seem that THIS is the form we need to submit by COB today.

  21. Jus' Bill says:

    So a Class Action for the HIPAA violation by some ambulance chasing lawyer soon after this starts? Where do we sign up?

  22. Comcam says:

    Just got back from my local VA clinic and signed the paperwork, got a copy of it also. Hopefully it goes though in time and works!

  23. Hondo says:

    FWIW: it looks like the VA has extended implementation of automatic “opt in” for health data sharing until Jan 2020.

    https://www.va.gov/VLER/vler-health-exchange-registration-guide.asp

    Dunno how that plays with the deadline, but I’d guess that means forms mailed today will block sharing. No guarantee, though.

    Prudent course of action IMO seems to be to file the appropriate opt-out form, then make an informed decision over the next two months. My form was hand-delivered to the VA today.

    Curiously, the VA web page in the link I provided was changed on 27 September 2019 – the same date as the article Steve linked above was published. The implementation date for data opt-in is bolded in the changed article; my guess is that that date change was the 27 September 2019 change.

  24. Mick says:

    Well now, ‘Helpful Medal’. Let’s make sure that we understand your perspective on this issue correctly, shall we?

    So according to you, the eight USN Sailors who were horribly injured while working up on the flight deck aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) when the Number 4 cross deck pendant snapped during an E-2C Hawkeye arrested landing during pre-deployment carrier landing qualifications off the coast of Virginia on the afternoon of 18 March 2016 don’t rate any disability benefits because they weren’t ‘deployed’.

    ‘Horrific cable mishap caused by maintenance errors: Navy’

    https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2016/07/14/horrific-cable-mishap-caused-by-maintenance-errors-navy/

    That cross deck pendant went whipping down the flight deck after it snapped under tension, cutting down and injuring multiple Sailors in its path; one Sailor came close to losing his leg. But in your warped world, their injuries are somehow less severe than any injuries suffered by those who were ‘deployed’.

    Yeah, those Sailors who were injured during pre-deployment carrier qualifications definitely don’t rate anything because they weren’t ‘deployed’. According to you, ‘those people can go f*ck themselves”. Yeah, that’s right. They don’t deserve anything, do they?

    You’re as far out of line here as you could possibly be, and you’ve pushed your brand of rude bullshit to an unacceptable level. Knock it off and stop being such an antagonistic, disrespectful jackass.

    Hopefully the TAH Admins will drop the ban hammer on you soon.

    Enough is enough. Good riddance.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Plus, the VA bans smoking at all its facilities effective today, 1 OCT.
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/smoking-ban-va-facilities-veterans-094130862.html

  26. 1stCavRVN11B says:

    Don’t know if you remember, but several years ago the VA had contracted European vendors to study all Agent Orange veterans who had signed the registry. The foreign vendors were given the complete medical records of each individual.