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Use of HIPAA Authorizations to Obtain Claimant Records


It has recently come to the attention of the Workers' Compensation Board ("Board") that individuals and entities seeking copies of claimant workers' compensation records have been submitting standard Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") authorizations bearing the claimant's notarized original signature.

The HIPAA authorizations that are commonly submitted to the Board (OCA Official Form Number 960) contain a box which specifically provides for the release of "other" records (Paragraph 9(a)). This box is often "checked off" by the requestor with a notation that the request is for a specific workers' compensation record(s).

Workers' Compensation Law ("WCL") Section 110-a(3) specifically provides that:

Notwithstanding the restrictions on disclosure set forth under subdivision one of this section, a person who is the subject of a workers' compensation record may authorize the release, re-release or publication of his or her record to a specific person not otherwise authorized to receive such record, by submitting written authorization for such release to the board on a form prescribed by the chair or by a notarized original authorization specifically directing the board to release workers' compensation records to such person.

It is the position of the Board that it is not a covered entity under HIPAA. Further, the standard HIPAA authorization specifically states it is for the release of health information regarding care and treatment and is directed to a health care provider or health care facility only. As such, a HIPAA authorization cannot be utilized to obtain claimant records from the Board.

Therefore, the Board will not accept written requests for claimant records which are accompanied by a standard HIPAA authorization containing claimant's notarized original signature. Any request for claimant records should be made by utilizing Board Form OC-110A, or a notarized original authorization which directs the Board to release only workers' compensation records to a specific person, as required by WCL Section 110-a(3).

Any questions concerning the Board's policy with respect to HIPAA authorizations should be addressed to the Board's Office of General Counsel, at 328 State Street, Schenectady NY 12305-2318 or by e-mail (officeofgeneralcounsel@wcb.ny.gov).