The Wagner Law Group
Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally
recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning,
employment, labor & human resources practice.
in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 22 attorneys engaged
exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and
employment law. Six of our attorneys are AV rated by
Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities
and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques
in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in
more than 40 states and several foreign countries.
Wagner Law Group
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
East Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602
Francisco, CA 94104
100 South 4th Street, Suite 550
St. Louis, MO 63102
January 28, 2016
Health and Welfare Law
New HIPAA Privacy Rule Allows
Disclosures of PHI for Firearms Background Checks
Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") has issued
a final rule that amends the HIPAA Privacy Rule to allow certain
covered entities to disclose to the National Instant Criminal
Background Check System ("NICS"), without consent, the
identities of individuals who are prohibited by law from possessing
or receiving firearms because of mental health issues.
Background. HIPAA governs how covered entities (i.e.,
health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers)
may use and disclose protected health information
("PHI"). PHI includes individually identifiable
health information (e.g., names, social security numbers and
addresses) when such information is connected to health data.
In general, covered entities may only use and disclose PHI without an
individual's prior authorization if such disclosure is expressly
permitted under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Federal law prohibits certain individuals from receiving or
possessing firearms. Specifically, this prohibition applies to
individuals who have been: (i) involuntarily committed to a mental
health institution, (ii) found incompetent to stand trial or not
guilty by reason of insanity, or (iii) otherwise determined by a
court, board, or other legal authority to be a danger to themselves
or others or unable to manage their own affairs as a result of
significant subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency,
condition or disease.
Rule. Under the final
who may disclose. Only covered entities that order
involuntary commitments or make other relevant adjudications
that subject individuals to the Federal mental health
prohibition may disclose to the NICS.
who may receive PHI. Covered entities may only make
disclosures to the NICS or one of its designated
NOTE: Covered entities may not make
disclosures for other law enforcement purposes or to other law
enforcement agencies unless another Privacy Rule provision permits
what information is disclosed. Disclosures made under
the final rule are limited to the information necessary for NICS
reporting (e.g., name, date of birth, gender, identity
of the submitting entity, and the applicable prohibition
NOTE: Covered entities may not disclose the
underlying diagnoses or treatment records.
It is important that covered entities understand
what the final rule does not do. Specifically, the final rule
- apply to
most covered entities. The final rule only applies to
those covered entities with authority to make adjudications or
commitment decisions that subject an individual to the Federal
mental health prohibition.
- create an
obligation to disclose.
- change who
is subject to the mental health prohibition for firearms.
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