Fueled by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision ending the Constitutional right to an abortion and ensuring the topic remains front and center through the 2024 elections, for months, legislators have been hyper-focused on investigating the privacy practices of pharmacies related to law enforcement demands for patient records. Disturbingly, their probe reveals that the nation’s largest pharmacy chains have handed over customers’ medical information to law enforcement and federal investigators without a warrant. In a December 12, 2023 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the legislators wrote:
“Through briefings with the major pharmacies, we learned that each year, law enforcement agencies secretly obtain the prescription records of thousands of Americans without a warrant. In many cases, pharmacies are handing over sensitive medical records without review by a legal professional. Although pharmacies are legally permitted to tell their customers about government demands for their data, most don’t. As a result, many Americans’ prescription records have few meaningful privacy protections, and those protections vary widely depending on which pharmacy they use.”
The letter, signed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), and Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), indicated that three of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, Rite Aid, Kroger, and CVS Health, instruct pharmacy staff to respond to law enforcement demands immediately. Five other chains, Cigna, Optum Rx, Walmart, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Amazon, require legal professionals to review law enforcement demands before responding. However, the letter states they only require warrants if state law mandates it.
Curiously, as the corrupt Deep State agenda pushes for all things digital—IDs, currency, and so on—they surely find themselves in a quandary as they battle to ensure a woman can end the life of her child well up to the time of birth. As noted by the Washington Post, in a Yale Law Journal Forum titled The Abortion Interoperability Trap, associate professor at the University of Connecticut Law School Carly Zubrzycki wrote in 2022 that because pharmacy chains often share medical records across all locations and state lines, “this sharing could link a person’s out-of-state medical care via a “digital trail” back to their home state.”
Like other companies in the investigation, a spokeswoman for CVS reported that the company’s processes align with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—a federal law that helps protect patient privacy. Other chains also stated that their procedures were consistent with HHS rules and regulations, which authorize them to disclose records if required by law or pursuant to a legal process. CVS Health spokeswoman Amy Thibault told the Washington Examiner in a statement:
“The Office for Civil Rights, the agency that enforces HIPAA, has reviewed our processes on multiple occasions and deemed them to be compliant. Additionally, our processes are consistent with industry practices.”
Of the eight pharmacy giants investigated, the lawmakers noted that Amazon was the only one that said it notified customers when law enforcement demanded its pharmacy records unless there was a legal prohibition, such as a “gag order,” preventing it from doing so. The companies told congressional investigators that they collectively receive tens of thousands of legal demands yearly and that most were connected with civil lawsuits. It is unclear how many were related to law enforcement demands or how many requests were fulfilled.
The letter notes that under a HIPAA “accounting of disclosure,” Americans can request the companies inform them if they’ve ever disclosed their data. Still, very few people take the time to ask for the information. Without elaborating on whether they explain to customers they may share their information and they have a right to inquire to find out, the letter states that last year, CVS Health, the largest pharmacy in the nation by total prescription revenue, only received a single-digit number of such consumer requests.
Reinforcing that the Democrat-led medical privacy investigation would not exist if it weren’t for the Dobbs decision, according to a previous abortion analysis by the Post (which first reported on the December 12 letter to Becerra and is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and interim Post CEO Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board), the discreet pharmacy data could be especially troubling for nearly one in three women ages 15 to 44 who live in states where abortion is entirely or primarily banned.
In light of their findings, the self-serving lawmakers boldly noted that Big Tech—which (in cahoots with the Biden administration) headed the censorship disinformation campaign relentlessly trying to destroy our country—insists on warrants before disclosing information on its customers. They urge HHS to follow this model for pharmacies as well. At this point, the blatant hypocrisy and immorality should shock no one. Indeed, the party that exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to take away the Constitutional rights, freedom, religion, and privacy from all men, women, and children is urging Becerra to “consider further strengthening its HIPAA regulations to more closely align them with Americans’ reasonable expectations of privacy and Constitutional principles.”