HomeHealth Care NewsCan Health Care Providers Deny Care for Refusing to Sign Privacy Notice?

Can Health Care Providers Deny Care for Refusing to Sign Privacy Notice?

An advocacy group that says patients are misinformed about their privacy rights is seeking an official clarification.

The Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking if the OCR has ever authorized a provider to deny care to a patient if they refused to sign the form known as the “acknowledgment of receipt of the Notice of Privacy Practices.”

HIPAA’s ‘No Privacy Rule’

Congress added privacy provisions to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 2003 designed to protect private health information. Patients are asked to sign HIPAA forms before receiving treatment.

But the notices are deceptive and should be called the “no privacy rule,” said Twila Brase, R.N., founder and president of CCHF, in a press release.

“Most people wrongly think signing the HIPAA form, the acknowledgment, means their medical data is held confidential, just between them and their doctor,” said Brase. “But signing the acknowledgment means they have read, understood, or received a form that notifies them that they have no privacy rights over their data.”

‘Right To Refuse’

Signing the form allows health care practices to share private medical records with anyone. The rule requires health care practices to document a refusal to sign, but patients are not required to sign it in order to receive treatment.

“Ultimately, we want HHS to issue an official statement acknowledging that patients have a right to refuse to sign the HIPAA acknowledgment statement and providers still have to treat them,” said Brase.

CCHF is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the HIPPA privacy rule with an informational campaign directed at patients called “Exposing HIPAA, the Deliberate Deception,” Brase told the Heartland Daily Podcast on March 30. “It is our intent to undo HIPAA and bring back real privacy, whether at the state or federal level,” Brase said. “We must do this because this is the only way we gain control in the exam room. Privacy is the foundation of freedom and while HIPAA exists all sorts of outsiders can control what happens in the exam room.”

Brase said CCHF released a video, The Truth About HIPAA, showing how misinformed patients are about HIPAA. “You’ll see people have no idea what HIPAA is and what they thought when we told them what it actually is,” said Brase.

AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.

See related article, ‘Free’ Genetic Testing Could Compromise Privacy

AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.


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