During his remarks on sweeping gun safety proposals today, President Obama sought to dispel any notions of gun lobby favoritism in Obamacare — addressing some concerns over a little-known Obamacare provision entitled the “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” that was quietly inserted into the health care law at the request of pro-gun, NRA-backed Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).
That measure seemingly gives gun owners special privileges by preventing wellness and better-living programs from requiring Americans to disclose information about their possible gun ownership, as well as prohibiting insurers from considering gun ownership when determining premium rates. As the President unveiled his gun safety proposals on Wednesday, he didn’t address those two points. But a fact sheet released to reporters does assert that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will clarify that Obamacare doesn’t prohibit medical professionals from openly discussing gun ownership with their patients:
Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.
Public health officials overwhelmingly consider gun injuries and fatalities to be a public health concern. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that gun violence costs $5.6 billion in annual medical bills, and up to $100 billion annually when also considering lost productivity from gun injuries and deaths.