HIPAA Trump: President Trump’s Health Information

In light of President Trump’s positive COVID diagnosis, a lot of people are wondering if it is permitted to share his health information with the public. Generally under HIPAA, healthcare organizations are prohibited from sharing a patient’s health information without authorization from the patient. However, as the President of the United States, Trump’s health condition is a matter of national security, so do the general rules still apply? To clear the matter up, permitted disclosures of President Trump’s health information are discussed below.

Can President Trump’s Health Information Be Shared Without Authorization?

Even though the health status of President Trump has far reaching implications, he is entitled to keep his health status private under HIPAA. The HIPAA Privacy Rule only permits disclosures of protected health information (PHI) without patient authorization for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. This means that President Trump’s health information can be shared between the doctors and nurses treating him, but the information is not up for public discussion, unless of course President Trump authorizes his health information to be shared with the public. In essence, the public will only receive updates on President Trump’s health that he wants them to receive. 

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HIPAA also requires the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), the facility treating President Trump, to adhere to the minimum necessary standard. The minimum necessary standard dictates that healthcare workers should only have access to the PHI that they need to perform their job function. This is accomplished by implementing access controls. Access controls designate different levels of access to PHI based on an employee’s job function. Implementing access controls ensures that patient’s health information is not accessed excessively, and without purpose. 

To ensure HIPAA compliance, WRNMMC must implement access controls, only granting access to President Trump’s health information to employees that need the information to treat him. By only granting access to WRNMMC employees that are treating President Trump, the likelihood that his health information will be leaked decreases, minimizing the risk of an insider breach.

Does the Public Have the Right to President Trump’s Health Information?

Although the public may believe that they have the right to President Trump’s health information, this is simply untrue. And although this may be frustrating to many, we must be patient and hope that we will be given updates on President Trump’s health status as necessary.