H.I.P.A.A. help: legal experts explain its purpose amid growing COVID-19 privacy questions

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Apr 27, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Knowing your COVID-19 privacy rights can seem confusing. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or H.I.P.A.A. does offer some protection.

“HIPAA is the legislation that protects the privacy of patient records and it prevents medical professionals from disclosing those records without the consent of the patient,” explained 7 Eyewitness News Legal Analyst, Florina Altshiler.

So, who can share your medical records, including anything related to COVID-19?

“No one can ask a medical provider what your COVID status is. They can absolutely ask you what your status is and you can choose to answer or not. HIPAA doesn’t not apply to self-disclosure or any questions or answers that you may provide.”

Earlier this month, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said all fans and staff would have to show proof of vaccination at bills games to enter.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he does not believe Poloncarz is legally allowed to require fans to be fully vaccinated in order to attend home games at Highmark Stadium.

But, once the vaccine receives final F.D.A. approval, Doctor Raul Vazquez said he believes we’ll start to see that become more common.

“You’re doing it to protect people. You’re not doing it to harm anyone. We all have different health literacies. Some of us don’t understand the importance of the vaccine.”

Altshiler said that will be up to the courts to decide provided someone files a lawsuit. “It hasn’t been tested in the courts, yet with regard to COVID, specifically. And, so, the government can force you to do that unless you oppose it, fight it, and have a judge say, no you can’t make this person do that.”