(Washington Times) – President Obama is using the national debate over gun violence to push for further action on his health care law, including insisting on the kind of mental health coverage states must provide under their Medicaid programs.
Mr. Obama, unveiling his gun proposals Wednesday barely a month after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., will make it clear that his health law, known as the Affordable Care Act, allows doctors to ask patients whether they have guns in their homes, and will tell them they are able to report any threats of violence they hear to police.
The president also will lay out the mental health coverage that all insurers will be required to provide under his signature-achievement law.
Those are some of the 23 executive actions Mr. Obama plans to take whether or not Congress acts on his broader recommendations, the White House said.
Other moves including offering incentives for schools to hire police; finally naming a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and requiring federal authorities to trace all guns recovered in their criminal investigations.
Mr. Obama also will call on his secretaries of education and health and human services to hold a national dialogue on mental health.
The entire list of the actions Mr. Obama is taking comprises:
1. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rule-making to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a Department of Justice report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
12. Provide law enforcement, first-responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun-safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school-resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental-health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on mental health.
(Weekly Standard) – According to a background briefer provided by the White House, President Barack Obama is asking doctors to help deal with guns. Here’s the relevant passage:
PRESERVE THE RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO PROTECT THEIR PATIENTS AND COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE: We should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands.
Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.
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.