What is HIPAA and what does it cover?

Health & Wellness

(WEHT)- It’s become a flashpoint during the COVID-19 pandemic: what is HIPAA and what does it cover?

On Tuesday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said a question asking if she was vaccinated “violated” her HIPAA rights. IUPUI law professor Nic Terry says Rep. Greene is wrong, as HIPAA does not pertain to being directly asked for medical information.

Terry explains that anyone from a friend, a health care provider, a university, or an employer can ask about vaccination status but people also have the right not to answer. Instead, Terry says HIPAA relates to patient information security, so a health care provider cannot release a patient’s information without their consent.

Dr. David Schultz from Evansville Primary Care says there are exemptions where HIPAA does not apply for health care providers including, but not limited to, matters of neglect, abuse, and national security.

Dr. Schultz says lawmakers who say they can’t comment on their vaccination status because of HIPAA are misconstruing the law’s intent and scope. Dr. Schultz says a reporter asking a congressperson about their vaccination is not, in itself, a violation of HIPAA, adding that lawmakers should understand the laws that are in place.

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