Days after being temporarily suspended from Twitter
for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was again a top story on the social media platform.
When a reporter asked about her vaccination status, the Georgia Republican responded by claiming that this query was a violation of her HIPAA rights.
“Your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights,” Greene said. “You see, with HIPAA rights, we don’t have to reveal our medical records — and that also involves our vaccine records.”
That’s not accurate, according to health officials.
So what is HIPAA exactly?
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a federal law that is meant to “protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Without the patient’s consent or knowledge” is key here: Greene disclosing her own vaccination status is not a violation of HIPAA. The law actually applies to “covered entities,” which includes health care providers, a health plan (like health insurance or HMOs) and health care clearinghouses.
An employer (or a reporter) asking about vaccination status is also not a violation of HIPAA.
Read more: ‘HIPAA does not give you a get-out-of-jail-free card’: What the health-privacy law does (and doesn’t) protect
“If an employer asks an employee to provide proof that they have been vaccinated, that is not a HIPAA violation, and employees may decide whether to provide that information to their employer,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition, “The federal [Equal Employment Opportunity] laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19,” guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states.
In other words, your employer can require that you get the COVID-19 vaccine. And a judge recently ruled that colleges can require students and employees to get vaccinated. The University of California and California State University school systems announced in April that they intend to require vaccination for all students and employees returning to campus.
This is not the first time that Greene has incorrectly cited HIPAA. In May, GOP members violated House rules by going maskless to take a photo on the House floor. When asked if they were vaccinated, Greene shouted that the question was a HIPAA violation.
Greene’s comment comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in all 50 states and the Delta variant of the virus continues to spread. Vaccine efforts have appeared to stall as the CDC’s COVID tracker shows only 48.7% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.