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Wollschlaeger: Guns and the Affordable Care Act

The tragedy of the  horrific shooting in Newtown Connecticut gradually faded from the daily news. Sadly, this shooting will be followed by another one and we will continue to seek answers to why it happened and what we could have done to prevent another massacre. 

In my opinion we have to recognize that the National Rifle Association (NRA) tentacles of influence have penetrated all aspects of our lives.

An article published in the Washington Post highlighted that the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied for the national health care law signed by President Obama in 2010 to include provisions restricting the ability of doctors and health plans to collect patient information about gun ownership.The language, pushed by the National Rifle Association in the final weeks of the 2010 debate over health care was  discovered only in recent weeks by some lawmakers and medical groups and is drawing fierce criticism.

The provision says that “wellness and prevention” portions of the health-care law “may not require the disclosure or collection of any information” relating to the “presence or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property.” Further, the measure says the law cannot be used to “maintain records of individual ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition.” It adds that the price of health coverage may not be affected by the ownership, possession or use of guns.

The deal to add gun language to the health-care bill was struck so quietly that several top officials in the Obama administration and in Congress had no idea the passages had been added until approached by The Washington Post last week.

Its important to understand that this questionable legislative compromise erected an almost insurmountable  barrier to the type of research required to address gun safety and gun control issues  vital for addressing the issues involved in the post-Newtown policy debate.

Again, the NRA has skillfully implemented a gag rule into the health care law preventing physicians to contribute to the data collection of ANY gun related issue. 

As parents, responsible citizens and physicians we need to continue and intensify our struggle against the metastasizing influence of the NRA in our government and lives.