Health Law Restrictions Prompt Mastriano Letter to President Trump

HARRISBURG – Restrictions in federal law that prohibit transparency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prompted State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) to contact President Donald Trump this week and request action.

In a letter dated March 18, Mastriano urged Trump to suspend portions of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability ACT (HIPAA) of 1996, as it specifically relates to a person testing positive for the coronavirus.

Additionally, Mastriano intends to introduce a concurrent resolution in the Pennsylvania Senate that would call upon the federal government to suspend components of HIPAA.

“Existing federal law prevents the sharing of names of COVID-19 persons, and this endangers the lives of those who come in close contact with them,” said Mastriano.

The temporary suspension would be lifted coinciding with the conclusion of the coronavirus outbreak. Mastriano noted that augmenting transparency with HIPAA would result in “life-saving medical” details for those who may have been exposed. Similarly, Mastriano explained that many persons in self-quarantine are in need of groceries and household items.

“It helps us combat the spread of the coronavirus by allowing those exposed to self-quarantine and contain the spread of the virus,” said Mastriano. “Overall, I believe that suspending components of HIPAA would result in enhanced transparency and would be a substantial benefit to Pennsylvania communities.”

Mastriano referenced reports regarding a Senate Democrat staffer who works at the Capitol and was recently tested for the virus, although no information has been released. With the lack of transparency, Mastriano believes others are at risk.

 “I hope the federal government takes this common sense approach to protect the lives of our people,” said Mastriano. “This type of proactive approach will protect the safety of all Pennsylvania residents.”

Mastriano previously worked with the Trump administration in rolling back an Obama-era policy that prevented faith-based agencies from participating in adoption services.

CONTACT: Scot Andrew Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov.