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Division Legal Advisor - Bill Cline
This PDF document has been posted to guide all patrollers at all levels in complying with the requirements of the National Ski Patrol's not-for-profit status. Click on the title above to access the document.
WHO’S AFRAID OF A HIPAA?
Who’s afraid of a HIPAA? We are ski patrollers; we are faster than a down hill ski racer; we are more powerful than a snow cat; we are able to jump over high mountains in a single bound; then why should we be scared of a HIPAA? HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It is an Act of Congress whose purpose is to protect the privacy of an individual’s medical information. The question now presented to patrollers is Adoes this law apply to our patrolling activities? The answer is - do not panic; I mean, really, do not panic! First, it is very important to understand that the decision of whether a HIPAA applies to your patrolling activities is a decision which must be made by your ski area. It is not an NSP decision. Second, HIPAA probably does not apply to patrolling activities. The primary reason for this conclusion, and good news, is the fact that patrols do not receive compensation for the medical services it renders to injured skiers on the slopes, combined with the fact that patrols generally do not electronically bill for medical services.
Recently, Bruce Reis, our National legal counsel, and our beloved national chairman (come on, you remember - his name is Bill Sachs), wrote an article on HIPAA which was recently printed in Ski Patrol Magazine (see link to the article below). The article should be read carefully. The article represents the official position of NSP. In addition to the article, the lawyers in the Eastern Division Legal Committee have performed their own investigation of HIPAA and, with the help of John Houston, an attorney whose legal practice involves interpreting and applying HIPAA, have come up with the following additional information:
So, go ahead and enjoy patrolling. Follow what your ski area says with respect to the application of HIPAA to your patrolling activities and, generally, do not worry; that is not a HIPAA coming down the mountain after you.
John Houston and Bill Cline, both of the Western Appalachian Region, contributed to providing the Division with information on HIPAA. John Houston is a patroller at Seven Springs Ski Area and is also the Director of Information Services, Privacy Officer and Assistant Counsel to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He deals with HIPAA matters in the course of his legal practice. Bill Cline is the Regional legal advisor for the Western Appalachian Region. For their help on this issue, the Division thanks them.
HIPAA: What Does It Mean to
Recently, many patrollers have expressed significant concern about their responsibilities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, a federal law that includes complex provisions for patient privacy. The reason people are talking about this now is because full compliance with the act was required by April 14, 2003. Since that date passed quietly around the time of many ski areas’ final day last season, many people are looking ahead to the coming season and wondering how HIPAA will affect them. For the rest of the article addressing this issue on the NSP web site, click here: