Federal doctors won’t comply with new requirement to report people who might be a danger to themselves or others
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday its mental health professionals won’t comply with a new gun law in New York that requires reporting the names of patients they believe likely to hurt themselves or others.
That provision is set to take effect Saturday. Several veterans and their advocates warned it would deter many from seeking counseling and medications to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues. Veterans fear their rights would be taken away.
VA Spokesman Mark Ballesteros said Monday that federal protections of veterans’ treatment records take precedence. The agency’s lawyers had been studying the New York statute, which passed in January.
“Federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans’ treatment records do not authorize VA mental-health professionals to comply with this New York State law,” Ballesteros said in a prepared statement. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws take precedence over conflicting state and local laws.”