Smart Talk Monday: Police reforms proposed in Pa.; What does HIPAA cover?

The death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers and subsequent protests against police brutality and racial injustice have prompted calls for more oversight of police departments across the country and in Pennsylvania.

Police reform legislation has been resurrected that was proposed in Pennsylvania in 2019 after an East Pittsburgh police officer shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager. That teen was suspected of being involved in another shooting and ran from police when he was shot. The officer was charged with murder but acquitted.

The proposals include barring the use of choke holds by police officers, allowing access to body-camera video under the state’s right-to-know law and establishing an independent review process after a civilian has been injured or killed by police.

Appearing on Monday’s Smart Talk to address police reform is Democratic State Representative Jordan Harris of Philadelphia, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

Also, last month Republican Rep. Andrew Lewis of Dauphin County announced he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but Democrats who may have come into contact with Lewis said they weren’t notified. A spokesman for House Republicans responded that medical privacy laws kept him from identifying other legislators who may have been exposed.

HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is most often thought of as a law to protect the privacy of patients’ health information. But does HIPAA apply to instances when a healthcare professional or organization isn’t involved?

We learn more on Monday’s Smart Talk about HIPAA from John DeLorenzo, director of legal services and associate general counsel, UPMC Pinnacle.