U.S. Regulators Reject AHF's Privacy Complaint

Lyla Katz
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has closed the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s privacy complaint against AIM Healthcare, saying it doesn’t have the authority to investigate the allegations.

AHF alleges that AIM Healthcare is violating the Federal Standards for Privacy by making patients sign a form authorizing the release of their test results.

The agency's Civil Rights office sent a letter to AHF stating, “The privacy and security rules apply to covered entities, which only include a healthcare clearinghouse, a health plan or a health care provider which transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction for which HHS has adopted standards.

“AIM is a healthcare provider but does not transmit any health information in electronic form for any of the designated transactions and therefore does not meet the definition of a covered entity. Therefore, the requirements of the privacy and security rules do not apply to AIM.”

“AIM complies with the strictest standards for protecting the privacy of our patients, meeting or exceeding all state and federal standards,” said Jeffrey Douglas, Free Speech Coalition attorney.

“We understand that in America, the 1st Amendment allows great latitude in expressing opinions. It is regrettable that some misuse this privilege to make unjustifiable assaults on the integrity and commitment of AIM. AIM does not expend precious resources attacking others. We provide desperately needed services to an under served community and are proud of our efforts.”

The agency enforces privacy rules and also enforces federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discrimination in the delivery of health and human services.