Phoenix VA Caught in HIPAA Hypocrisy
Scandal-Plagued VA Hospital Leaks Private Health Information to Dodge Blame for Vet Suicide, Undercut Congressional Critic
Arlington, Va. – The confidential medical information of a veteran who committed suicide after being denied care at the Phoenix VA has been leaked to the press by a VA staff member, according to multiple press reports. The legally protected information was included in an internal staff email made public in an apparent effort to rebut an ad being run by the campaign of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
The September 4th email, which Phoenix VA acting Director Glenn Costie sent to hospital staff, claims to “pass on the rest of the story” about an ad that Rep. Sinema’s campaign is running featuring the parents of deceased combat-veteran Daniel Somers. The email, which was then leaked to media, included legally protected information that the hospital had repeatedly denied The Arizona Republic access to based on claims that doing so would violate HIPAA regulations protecting patient privacy and would improperly influence ongoing investigations.
“It seems there is no limit to how low the VA will go to cover its culpability in patient deaths,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA. “Concerned Veterans for America is outraged that Phoenix VA officials allegedly violated federal law by leaking the private health information of a veteran who tragically committed suicide after being denied care at the Phoenix VA Hospital in order to undermine Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, an outspoken supporter of VA reform. The VA hides behind privacy regulations when questioned by the press, and even uses them to silence whistleblowers, but then has no problem surreptitiously leaking the same information to undermine one of their critics when it serves their purposes.”
“This is but the latest episode in a pattern of shamelessly abhorrent behavior by Phoenix VA officials that has made national headlines and been verified by independent investigators. Yet somehow, we are still waiting on VA Secretary McDonald to use his new firing powers to remove a single one of the multitude of officials in Phoenix – and across the country – who are responsible for repeatedly putting the VA’s needs above those of the veterans it exists to serve. Enough is Enough. There must be firings and criminal prosecutions to finally break this culture of corruption and instill a sense of accountability in the VA Health System.”
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