As of February 5, 2016, a change in the law allows certain health care providers to report the identity of an individual who is prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). The Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) amended the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) Privacy Rule to allow such reporting by health care providers who are a “covered entity” under HIPAA and who are: state agencies; designated by the state with lawful authority to make the adjudications or commitment decisions that make individuals subject to a “mental health prohibitor”; or serve as repositories of information for NICS reporting purposes. The Final Rule that makes this amendment to HIPAA was published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2016: click here.
Before this amendment, health care providers who are “covered entities” under HIPAA could report information to the NICS only if:
(1) the health care provider had designated itself as a “hybrid entity” where the Privacy Rule would apply only to the entity’s functions that are subject to Continue reading