No one ever accused Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of being an intellectual giant, but the extent of her cluelessness continues to astound those who observe her sound bites closely.
As a regular disseminator of QAnon conspiracy theories and anti-vax propaganda, Rep.Greene has developed a reputation as one of the most delusional lawmakers in Congress, but her latest stunt has social media commentators debating whether her recent mischaracterization of America’s medical privacy laws stem from ignorance or are a deliberate attempt to evade questions about her own vaccination status.
The controversy stems from an exchange that Greene had yesterday with Aaron Navarro of CBS News who asked the Georgia legislator about her reaction to the news that the GOP Minority Whip, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA), had finally gotten his COVID vaccine shot on Sunday after concluding that the shots were “safe and effective.”
“Two questions: have you, yourself gotten vaccinated, and do you disagree with the Republican Whip?” Navarro asked the attention-seeking congresswoman.
Greene evaded the question in a manner that suggests that her understanding of the HIPAA legislation is either extremely limited, non-existent, or being purposefully mischaracterized in order to shield her from scrutiny.
“Well — your — your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights,” Greene responded to Navarro.
“You see, with HIPAA rights — uh — we don’t have to reveal our medical records, and that involves our vaccine records,” she continued.
Question: Have you yourself been vaccinated?
Greene: Your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights pic.twitter.com/JuHDovV2mC
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 20, 2021
Journalist Aaron Keller at the Law & Crime website pointed out the problems with Greene’s use of the HIPAA act as an excuse to refuse to reveal her vaccination status.
“First, she claimed the ‘question’ itself was a ‘violation’ of HIPAA. It was not,” Keller writes
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, applies to what the Department of Health and Human Services refers to as ‘covered entities’ — and to certain organizations and people who do business with those entities. As most journalists know, the press is not a covered entity under HIPAA,” he continued.
“Greene’s comment — which, again, claimed that the ‘question’ itself violated HIPAA — was entirely inaccurate. Journalists are not banned, barred, or bound by HIPAA from inquiring about anyone’s health status or their vaccination status. It’s up to the individual to whom the question is posed to decide whether or not to answer. HIPAA does not ban journalists from asking about health information. Indeed, if it did, then the law would almost surely have been met with a vigorous First Amendment challenge.”
Keller also shot down Greene’s claim that HIPAA allows her to refuse to divulge her private medical information.
“People have to reveal medical information all the time. HIPAA does not grant each American medical patient a universal shield against the passing of medical data,” Keller states.
“Employers have a legal right question whether job candidates are fit for service. Schools can ask bus drivers whether they can see properly with or without corrective lenses. Airlines can ask pilots whether they have a history of seizures. Railroad engineers can be required to take drug tests. Warehouses can ask applicants if they can lift boxes of a certain weight. Firefighters and police officers are required to prove physical fitness. Medical examinations are often attached to such employment. HIPAA does not ban the asking of such questions or the gleaning of such data,” he writes.
With the truth about HIPAA requirements now clear, it’s obvious that Greene simply doesn’t want to disclose her vaccination status, which is well within her rights but has absolutely nothing to do with the medical privacy provisions in the legislation.
The social media response to Greene’s evasive and ill-informed answer was vicious.
MTG: Doc, will they know if I have been vaccinated?
Doctor: No HIPAA requires confidentiality.
Reporter: Have you been vaccinated?
MTG: I have HIPAA rights.
like stupidity is a built-in gaslighting tool with this one.
— Reesus Patriot (@ResusCGMedia) July 20, 2021
My kingdom for a reporter that would tell her she is wrong to her face
— Truvy (@bornwof) July 20, 2021
A handy reference. https://t.co/iyusF5dtNh
— Yvonne Left (@LeftYvonne) July 21, 2021
Her vaccine card is being audited, otherwise she would gladly tell you.
— Reid Rivenburgh (@rivenburgh1) July 20, 2021
— KLA (@kustomken) July 21, 2021
You gotta fight
For your right
2 HIIIIIIPAAAAA! pic.twitter.com/YvTsnzjdRL
— zJim he/him (@jiminfantino) July 21, 2021
School officials: Have your children been vaccinated, I will need proof…
Parents: This is a violation of my HIPAA rights.
— End the Filibuster Gun Reform Infrastructure = NOW (@TrueWordsRSpoke) July 21, 2021
If you meet me in person, please don’t ask me how I’m doing.
It’s a HIPAA violation.
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) July 21, 2021
Whatever Rep. Greene’s motivation for her caginess over her vaccination status, it’s obvious that she’s not the brightest bulb in the GOP congressional caucus.
Let’s hope her legislative career is short and that she soon fades into obscurity to reappear as a low-scoring Jeopardy question at some point in the future.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.