April 28, 2003
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
I have received your inquiry concerning fees for medical records. Although the HIPAA regulations are new, health care providers have been able to charge up to seventy-five cents per photocopy in New York pursuant to §18 of the Public Health Law for several years. Subdivision (2)(e) of that provision states that:
"The provider may impose a reasonable charge for all inspections and copies, not exceeding the cost incurred by such provider, provided, however, that a provider may not impose a charge for copying an original mammogram when the original has been furnished to any qualified person and provided, further, that any charge for furnishing an original mammogram pursuant to this section shall not exceed the documented costs associated therewith. However, the reasonable charge for paper copies shall not exceed seventy-five cents per page. A qualified person shall not be denied access to patient information solely because of inability to pay."
The Freedom of Information Law, which pertains to government records in New York, states that a government agency may charge up to twenty-five cents per photocopy, unless a different fee is prescribed by statute. The statute that authorizes a higher fee in this instance is §18 of the Public Health Law.
I hope that the foregoing serves to enhance your understanding of the matter and that I have been of assistance.