Tuesday, January 15, 2013

HIPAA vs "Gun Control"

HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; note that, unlike the ObamaTax, there was no pretense regarding affordability) is a widely misunderstood piece of legislation. But it's in its application that we often find the most trouble.

Tomorrow, President Obama is threatening promising to release a slew of Executive Orders to more rigidly control legal access to firearms:

"Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include ... compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records"

Now, there's been some chatter on the internets that this would be a flagrant violation of HIPAA privacy rules. The thinking seems to be that signing a HIPAA privacy form prohibits health care professionals from releasing information to, for example, federal authorities without prior authorization.

This would be untrue:


(1) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section authorizing disclosures of records without consent, no disclosure of a record will be made without the consent of the subject individual.

(b) Disclosures without the consent of the subject individual. The disclosures listed in this paragraph may be made without the consent of the subject individual. Such disclosures are:
(7) To another government agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States for a civil or criminal law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized by law"

So like it or not, HIPAA offers no "safe harbor" in this scenario.

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