Legislation Exempting Disability Benefits Recipients, Applicants from Fees for Copy of Medical Records Passes Committee

Aiming to reduce a financial obligation that many recipients and applicants of Social Security Disability benefits encounter, Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Anthony Verrelli sponsor legislation that would exempt these patients from being charged a fee for requesting copies of their health records.

Under the bill (A-4139), both applicants and current recipients of Social Security Disability benefits would be added to the list of individuals and groups who cannot be charged for a copy of a patient’s medical or billing records. Low-income patients as well as non-profit organizations and lawyers representing patients on a pro-bono basis are already exempt from these fees.

The legislation would also require health care providers to deliver patient records in the manner specified by the person or group requesting those records.

After the bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, Assemblyman Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Assemblyman Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) issued the following joint statement:

“While a fee of up to $200 for medical or billing records may not seem like much to some people, it can be quite a lot for others. Recipients of Social Security Disability benefits are only eligible for those benefits because they have a severe disability that prevents them from working and therefore earning an income. Even with federal financial assistance, it can be challenging for many of them to pay for anything other than the most basic expenses.

 “It just makes sense to exempt residents who are unable to work and have an extensive medical history from any fees associated with obtaining a copy of their important medical records.”