Court Throws Out Fee Policies for Medical Record Sharing

February 24, 2020 | Rivkin Rounds Staff | HIPAA | Legislation and Public Policy | Litigation

A recent article in Part B News, “Court throws out fee policies for medical record sharing; watch for new rules,” discussed the recent court decision in Ciox Health, LLC v. Alez Azar, et al., which led to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services modifying its guidance regarding charging fees for access to patient medical records. Rivkin Radler’s Eric Fader was quoted in the article. The Ciox case was previously discussed here.

Although HHS’s 2016 guidance has now been withdrawn after the Ciox decision, Eric said “I think HHS’ heart was in the right place” in issuing it because “it was in furtherance of improved access. In recent years, there’s been a lot of focus on how to improve access to and sharing of patient records for legitimate purposes, particularly care coordination.” New rules are expected soon.

Healthcare providers will now have the right to charge higher copying fees for patient records to be delivered to third parties, rather than directly to the patient, “as long as the requested rates are reasonable and cost-based,” Eric said. However, providers still have an obligation to put patient care first. “For coordination of care of a critically ill patient, the additional time in having records first sent to the patient and then forwarded to the other care provider, as opposed to having them sent directly from one care provider to the other, could make a difference in the patient’s care,” he cautioned. “Hopefully no one will die trying to save a few dollars on copying fees, or because one provider takes longer than 30 days in responding to another provider’s request for records that wasn’t a valid third-party directive.”

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