FOIA for Council Members’ Health Insurance Participation Denied

Last week I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the names of the Council members who are signed up for the City of DeKalb’s health insurance plan, and have since been denied under the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), specifically 45 C.F.R. 164.501 and 164.502. [Update 6/6: Link found to be broken, have substituted another.] This essentially means the City’s legal counsel maintains that the names are protected health information, which is defined as individually identifiable health information.

Legal counsel is incorrect. To understand the error, take a look at the definition of health information itself:

Health information means any information, whether oral or recorded in any form or medium, that:

(1) Is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, employer, life insurer, school or university, or health care clearinghouse; and

(2) Relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual; the provision of health care to an individual; or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual.

Did you spot it? They are mixing up the provision of health care with the provision of a health plan.

I’ll keep you posted on the appeal.