The latest shot at health care reform

THE LATEST SHOT AT HEALTH CARE REFORM…. Nearly every other far-right constituency has manufactured odd reasons to oppose health care reform, so it stands to reason that the gun crowd would get in on the fun.

About a week ago, Gun Owners of America told its 300,000 members that the reform bill pending in the Senate “would mandate that doctors provide ‘gun-related health data’ to ‘a government database,’ including information on mental-health issues detected in patients, which could jeopardize their ability to obtain a firearms license.” Not done there, the alert added that “nothing within the bill would prohibit rabidly anti-gun HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from decreeing that ‘no guns’ is somehow healthier.”

It’s not an abortion bill, but the debate managed to turn to abortion. It’s not a gun bill, but the debate has managed to turn to guns. It’s funny how the culture-war issues manage to sneak their way into everything.

Hoping to knock the bogus argument down before it becomes too common, the White House’s Dan Pfeiffer published a fact-check item yesterday, setting the record straight.

NOTHING IN THE SENATE BILL WOULD RESULT IN “GUN-RELATED HEALTH DATA” BEING SUBMITTED TO THE GOVERNMENT. There is no mention of “gun-related health data” anywhere in the Senate’s health reform bill and there is nothing in the bill that would result in any such data being reported to the government. The bill does provide guidelines for reporting of anonymous statistical information to help with research, but none of this would lead to gun ownership or “gun related health data” being included in reporting to the government.

NOTHING IN THE SENATE HEALTH REFORM BILL WOULD LEAD TO HIGHER PREMIUMS FOR GUN OWNERS OR A “DECREE” THAT GUN OWNERS ARE LESS HEALTHY THAN OTHERS. Section 2717 section creates guidelines for insurers to report on initiatives that improve quality of care and health outcomes, and it specifically lists what types of programs would be involved – such as smoking cessation, physical fitness, nutrition, heart disease prevention. There is no mention of guns, and there is no language that could result in higher premiums for gun owners or lower premiums for people who do not own guns. Section 2705 of the bill does permit employers to provide premium discounts for employee participation in health promotion and disease prevention programs, and it prohibits insurers from discriminating against individuals for specific reasons such as health status, medical history, and genetic information. It allows the Secretary to add other “health status-related” factors to the list. But again, there is no mention of guns, or any possibility that owning or not owning guns would ever be considered a “health status-related” issue.

For those who may be inclined to believe the accusations, these pesky, accurate details may be deemed irrelevant. But for those swayed by reality, it’s always nice to have the White House offer a reality check.