Thursday, March 4, 2010

Doctors to be assumed Guilty until proven Innocent

President Obama has offered to accept "the best ideas from both parties" and considers "random undercover investigations" to be one such idea..

1. Although the proposal I released last week included a comprehensive set of initiatives to combat fraud, waste, and abuse, Senator Coburn had an interesting suggestion that we engage medical professionals to conduct random undercover investigations of health care providers that receive reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal programs.

Simply by supporting this tactic, the President has violated his oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution

The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.'

Random undercover investigations are inconsistent with the right to be free from search and seizure lacking probable cause. They reverse the assumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The choice of one's profession or livelihood does not negate one's Constitutional rights, nor negate the presumption of innocence.

President Obama's health care proposals will lead to an explosive rise in government debt and further stimulate rising health care costs, but the damage this does to our bank accounts pales in comparison to the damage done to the Office of the President, to Constitutional law and to our individual liberties.

These violations of our rights must be stopped. NOW.



Chris Hibbert said...

I agree with you that this initiative is a mistake and a waste of effort. I even think you're right that it's hard to square with the presumption of innocence.

But I have to differ with you on the 4th amendment. The courts routinely rule that undercover tactics don't constitute search and seizure. The courts' interpretation is that in pursuing an undercover investigation, the police are taking advantage of someone's willingness to talk to a third party, which isn't protected.

Even so, it looks like political theater to me. Waste, fraud, and abuse aren't the problem, the misaligned incentives in the health care system are. Nearly all doctors are acting in good faith, and while the government might catch a few bad actors, the investigators will be sure to presume that unusual behavior is nefarious and they'll keep digging until they find something. That's not an appropriate role for government. But it's not a violation of the fourth amendment.

Beth said...


It is one thing to have an undercover investigation of someone you have probable cause to suspect of illegal activity, and another to do random sting type operations. I believe that cops are not allowed to randomly pull people over for breathalizer testing for the same reason. They need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing before making you stop and "show your papers."
You may be right about how it has recently been interpreted. I would love to learn more. I will, however, stick to my claim that a properly interpreted 4th amendment would protect against random search and seizure.