Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Consumer groups fighting proposed higher charges for medical records

Lori Coleman sorts through inactive medical records at the Pinellas County Jail in Largo. A proposal would make copies of those records more expensive for patients who request them.

Douglas R. Clifford | Times (2001)

Lori Coleman sorts through inactive medical records at the Pinellas County Jail in Largo. A proposal would make copies of those records more expensive for patients who request them.

Consumer advocates and attorneys are lining up against a proposal to allow patients requesting their own medical records to be charged up to four times what they pay now.

The proposed change, which comes before the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday, is the result of a request by a lobbyist for HealthPort Technologies LLC, a national company that contracts with doctors groups to handle medical records.

Currently, state rules allow health providers to charge patients $1 per page for the first 25 pages and 25 cents per page after that. The request would allow $1 charges for every page.

It may not sound huge, but opponents say it adds up quickly, especially for patients who need hundreds of records to apply for disability benefits or file malpractice claims.

"It just seems unfair to charge them these excessive amounts," said Alice Vickers, with the Florida Consumer Action Network.

HealthPort's lobbyist, Cynthia Henderson, wrote in a letter to the Board of Medicine that the request will simplify the state administrative code. The proposed change also makes the cost of electronic documents the same as paper copies.

Henderson said producing copies is not a simple process. Medical copying companies — they are known as the "release of information" industry — must follow detailed procedures to ensure patient confidentiality, she wrote.

"Many people mistakenly believe that production of electronic medical records is as simple as locating a file on a server and attaching it to an email and hitting send or copying it to a disc or flash drive," she wrote to the board. "Similarly, many people believe production of paper copies is as simple as retrieving the file from a shelf or drawer and putting it in a copy machine and hitting 'start.' "

Vickers said the records contractors have not shown why they are entitled to higher rates.

"I think you're talking big bucks here when you look at the volume of medical records," she said.

At least one class of people already have been paying the higher $1 per page rate: lawyers. The existing state code says only that patients and governments are entitled to the 25-cent provision. So HealthPort has charged lawyers, even those acting on behalf of patients, at a rate of $1 per page.

Barbara Allen, a 69-year-old Tampa resident, hired an attorney after falling at a Family Dollar store last year and breaking her femur. When her attorney requested her medical records from her orthopedic group, he was charged at the higher rate, which turned into a $217 bill. That cost was passed on to her.

"That's why you spend all this time signing legal paperwork, getting them to act on your behalf," said Allen, who would've owed a little over $70 if her lawyer had been charged the same as a patient.

Now Allen is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against HealthPort, alleging that the company had overcharged her attorney and was "essentially holding records ransom for the payment of unlawful fees."

The Florida Board of Medicine's meeting will be held at the Hilton Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton in Deerfield Beach.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3374.

Consumer groups fighting proposed higher charges for medical records 07/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.