VA Uses Private Medical Records against Whistleblowers

When the government has your private medical records, it will use them against you if it needs to do so.

The headline at the Blaze says it all: “Shock Testimony: VA Officials Retaliate Against Whistleblowers by Illegally Accessing Their Medical Records.”

This surprising testimony from Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner was delivered at a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing, which was called to discuss the problems whistleblowers face when they try to expose the ongoing failure of the VA to provide medical care to veterans.

In Lerner’s prepared testimony, she explained that many VA officials who try to reveal these problems are veterans themselves who are also seeking care at the VA. She said in some cases, VA officials try to retaliate by examining the medical records of these officials, and said this still happens — she called it an “ongoing concern.”

“In several cases, the medical records of whistleblowers have been accessed and information in those records has apparently been used to attempt to discredit the whistleblowers,” she said.

[See also, “Another VA Whistleblower: Under Investigation for Claiming Hospital Uses Off-the-Record Lists.”]

So how much information about the rest of us can the government now easily access? With Obamacare and the Federal Government mandate to make sure all our records are in electronic storage I suspect that we are now all stuck in one giant VA hospital.

One example of a veteran who believes his medical records were inappropriately accessed is Brandon Coleman, a Marine Corps veteran who sustained injuries to his right foot while he served. Coleman works at the VA system in Phoenix, and told TheBlaze he became a whistleblower after it became clear that someone illegally went into his medical records.

He said after he started publicizing the failures of his own office to properly treat veterans with suicidal tendencies, his own mental health was questioned by his superiors. As of this year, the VA has threatened to reduce his disability rating.

“I feel strongly that this proposal to reduce my benefits is nothing more than an additional retaliation against me because I came forward as a whistleblower,” he wrote in a March letter he gave to TheBlaze.

Coleman also added that his most recent attempts to ask who else might have gone though his medical records have been met with silence from the VA. Coleman has asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to look into his case.

[See also, “VA Whistleblowers Deal With Federal Revenge.”]

Face it. We now know that the Federal government has the ability to use our secrets against us, not only because they can access them so easily, but because we have watched them get away with it and no one does anything to stop them. Lois Lerner got a lucrative retirement. No one has lost a dime of pay for telling the broken-hard-drives lie. Congress is a joke when it comes to law enforcement.

About the only thing that could rectify the situation would be for the next president to make sure a bunch of bureaucrats are severely punished. But that will never happen.

In the meantime, the appraisal of J.D. Tuccille at Reason.com is exactly right:

If you really need further evidence of why it’s dangerous to let government officials demand sensitive information from us, look no further than the ongoing scandal at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

But what are we going to do about it?