Healthcare News & Insights

Medical records used to ‘out’ illegal immigrants

Tension in Utah over a proposed immigration law may have led to a gigantic misuse of resident’s medical information.

A list of 1,300 alleged illegal immigrants living in Utah was released to a variety of law enforcement agencies and media outlets. The document’s sender was only identified as “Concerned Citizens of the United States.”

The document included personal information ranging from addresses and dates of birth, to the expected due dates of a number of pregnant women on the list.

It’s unclear where the information came from — or how much of it is accurate. State officials are investigating whether state databases were improperly used to mine some of the information.

Based on interviews, some of the people named on the list believe their data was taken from state records related to their Medicaid applications and tax payments.

If so, the sender(s) could face a variety of charges. Improperly releasing information from state records is a misdemeanor. But the access to medical information implied by the inclusion of the womens’ due dates suggests that a monumental HIPAA breach also took place. That would be a felony, with punishment including possible jail time.

While state investigators look into the incident, “Concerned Citizens” said it will be “watching and waiting” and will release more names in the future.

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