Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Is the VA using HIPAA privacy regs as a club?

Rep. Jeff Miller has accused the VA of using HIPAA privacy investigations to silence critics.
Rep. Jeff Miller has accused the VA of using HIPAA privacy investigations to silence critics.

Congress developed the patient health privacy rules in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in an effort to help consumers keep sensitive information out of the hands of employers, marketers and others.

Now Joe Davison of The Washington Post says some critics of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs believe the VA is routinely using HIPAA as an excuse to punish employees who speak out about problems.

Davison writes about efforts by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., to look into allegations of misuse of HIPAA in whistleblower retaliation cases. Davison also quotes an official at the federal Office of Special Counsel who says even a small number of HIPAA retaliation cases could have a chilling effect.

—Allison Bell

Rep. Jeff Miller says the department uses patient protection rules to silence whistleblowers.

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