Marjorie Taylor Greene rages at HIPAA prosecution despite her past support for HIPAA

Washington, DC: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) arriving before a gathering with Former President Donald Trump on June 13, 2024 on Capitol Hill.
Washington, DC: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) arriving before a gathering with Former President Donald Trump on June 13, 2024 on Capitol Hill. Photo: Jack Gruber / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has used the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to claim that it’s illegal to ask her about her COVID vaccination status, but now she appears to be arguing that her bill to ban gender-affirming care will end HIPAA protections for transgender youth.

In 2021, Greene was asked if she had been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, to which she responded: “Your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights. You see, with HIPAA rights, we don’t have to reveal our medical records, and that also includes our vaccine records.”

While that is not how HIPAA works—it regulates how medical professionals handle records; it says nothing about patients disclosing their own medical histories or third parties asking questions—it became a common talking point for her and other anti-vaccine advocates as they opposed vaccine and testing requirements.

Despite what appeared to be her support for HIPAA, she’s now mad that a doctor is being prosecuted under HIPAA for releasing trans children’s medical records to right-wing activists without their or their parent’s consent.

“What kind of evil country have we become???” she wrote on X, linking a story about Dr. Eithan Haim, who, in 2023, allegedly gave transgender children’s medical records to rightwing activist Christopher Rufo.

“Jailing a doctor that exposed Texas Children’s Hospital for lying and cutting off mentally ill children’s body parts for profit to go along with their gender dysphoria?!!” she continued, incorrectly implying that the records Haim released showed that children were getting gender-affirming surgery at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Instead, the records showed that a minor got reversible puberty blockers, a hormone-based therapy that delays the permanent effects of puberty and gives trans kids and their families more time to understand their identities.

“Pass my bill Protect Children’s Innocence Act to stop this!” she concluded, referring to her bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, make gender-affirming care for transgender adults harder to obtain, and ban medical schools from teaching about gender-affirming care. The bill would do nothing to repeal HIPAA or stop prosecutions under HIPAA.

Haim claims that he is a whistle-blower since he believes that gender-affirming care for transgender youth is a form of child abuse. Under Texas law, doctors must report child abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It is unclear if Haim also reported to that department or if he just shared the children’s medical records with right-wing activists.

Moreover, Haim claims that the medical records he leaked to Rufo were anonymized, but Assistant Clinical Professor Carmel Shachar of Harvard Law School told Assigned Media that the records Haim leaked were not de-identified in compliance with HIPAA, meaning that people could figure out who the records originally belonged to. This could potentially make the children whose records Haim leaked targets for harassment and bullying.

Greene’s 2021 claim that no one can ask about someone’s vaccination status because of HIPAA was incorrect, according to University of Louisville law professor Mark Rothstein, who specializes in HIPAA.

“It is not a general shield that permits individuals to avoid disclosing their own health information,” Rothstein told Poynter. “Individuals often must disclose their health information, or authorize the disclosure by a HIPAA covered entity, when applying for employment, life insurance, etc. The individual does not have to release the health information, but then they may not be hired or offered insurance.”

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