Privacy Policy

AMERICARE CERTIFIED SPECIAL SERVICES, INC.

NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION.  PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

We are required by law to protect the privacy of health information that may reveal your identity, and to provide you with a copy of this notice that describes our health information privacy practices.

If you have any questions about this notice or would like further information, please contact Americare’s Privacy Officer at (718) 872-2400.

IMPORTANT SUMMARY INFORMATION

WHAT IS PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION

Protected Health Information is any individually identifiable patient information related to your past, present or future health care or medical condition that may be used to identify you that is maintained electronically or on paper. Some examples of protected health information include information indicating that you are a patient of or receiving health-related services from our agency, information about your health condition, genetic information, or information about your health care benefits under an insurance plan, each when combined with identifying information, such as your name, address, social security number or phone number. We are committed to protecting the privacy of information we gather about you while providing health-related services.

 

HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION

Requirement For Written Authorization.  We will generally obtain your written authorization before using your health information or sharing it with others outside the agency.  You may also initiate the transfer of your records to another person or entity by completing a written authorization form.  If you provide us with written authorization, you may revoke that written authorization at any time, except to the extent that we have already relied upon it.   We may not disclose any of your health information for marketing purposes if we will receive direct or indirect financial remuneration not reasonably related to our cost of making the communication. Additionally, we will not sell your protected health information to third parties. The sale of protected health information, however, does not include a disclosure for public health purposes, for research purposes where we will only receive remuneration for our costs to prepare and transmit the health information, for treatment and payment purposes, for the sale, transfer, merger or consolidation of all or part of our agency, for a business associate or its subcontractor to perform health care functions on our behalf, or for other purposes as required and permitted by law.

Exceptions To Written Authorization Requirement. There are some situations when we do not need your written authorization before using your health information or sharing it with others.  They are:

Exceptions For Treatment, Payment, And Business Operations.  We may use and disclose your health information for purposes of treatment, payment and business operations.  Below are examples of how your information may be used and disclosed for these purposes.

Treatment.  We may share your health information with doctors, nurses and other professionals at the agency who are involved in taking care of you.  We may share your health information with others to determine how to treat you.  For example, we may call a physician to verify a prescription or a respiratory therapist may consults with a  physician to determine the frequency of oxygen use.

Payment.  We may use your health information or share it with others so that we may obtain payment for your health care services.  For example, we may share information about you with your health insurance company in order to obtain reimbursement after we have provided services to you, or to determine whether it will cover services.   However, we may not share information with your health insurance company for any services for which you paid directly.

Business Operations.  We may use your health information or share it with others in order to conduct our business operations.  For example, we may use your health information to evaluate the performance of our staff in caring for you, to educate our staff on how to improve the care they provide for you or to respond to complaints.  We may also share your health information for compliance, audit, business planning and other administrative activities. 

Appointment Reminders, Treatment Alternatives, Benefits And Services.  In the course of providing services to you, we may use your health information to contact you with a reminder that you have an appointment for treatment or services.  We may also use your health information in order to recommend possible treatment alternatives or health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Business Associates.  We may disclose your health information to contractors, agents and other business associates who need the information in order to assist us with obtaining payment or carrying out our business operations.  For example, we may share your health information with a billing company that helps us to obtain payment from your insurance company.  Another example is that we may share your health information with an accounting firm or law firm that provides professional advice to us about how to improve our health care services and comply with the law.  If we do disclose your health information to a business associate, we will have a written contract to ensure that our business associate also protects the privacy of your health information. If our business associate discloses your health information to a subcontractor or vendor, the business associate will have a written contract to ensure that the subcontractor or vendor also protects the privacy of the information.

Exception For Disclosure To Family And Friends Involved In Your Care.  We may share your health information with family and friends involved in your care or payment for your care.  We will always give you an opportunity to object unless there is insufficient time because of a medical emergency (in which case we will discuss your preferences with you as soon as the emergency is over).  We will follow your wishes unless we are required by law to do otherwise.

Family and Friends Involved In Your Care.  We may disclose protected health information to your family, friends or any other individual identified by you for the following purposes: (i) if the information is directly relevant to such person’s involvement with your care or payment for your care; and (ii) to notify such person(s) of your location, general condition or death. If you are present or otherwise available, we will give you an opportunity to object to these disclosures and we will not make these disclosures if you object. If you are not present or otherwise available, we will determine whether a disclosure to your family or friends is in your best interest, taking into account the circumstances and based upon our professional judgment.

As Required By Law.  We may use or disclose your health information if we are required by law to do so.  We also will notify you of these uses and disclosures if notice is required by law.

Public Health Activities.  We may disclose your health information to authorized public health officials (or a foreign government agency collaborating with such officials) so they may carry out their public health activities.   For example, we may share your health information with government officials that are responsible for controlling disease, injury or disability.  We may also disclose your health information to a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease or be at risk for contracting or spreading the disease if a law permits us to do so.

Victims Of Abuse, Neglect Or Domestic Violence.  We may release your health information to a public health authority that is authorized to receive reports of abuse, neglect or domestic violence.  For example, we may report your information to government officials if we reasonably believe that you have been a victim of such abuse, neglect or domestic violence.  We will make every effort to obtain your permission before releasing this information, but in some cases we may be required or authorized to act without your permission.

Health Oversight Activities.  We may release your health information to government agencies authorized to conduct audits, investigations, and inspections of our agency.  These government agencies monitor the operation of the health care system, government benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and compliance with government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.

Product Monitoring, Repair And Recall.  We may disclose your health information to a person or company that is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of: (1) reporting or tracking product defects or problems; (2) repairing, replacing, or recalling defective or dangerous products; or (3) monitoring the performance of a product after it has been approved for use by the general public.

Lawsuits And Disputes.  We may disclose your health information if we are ordered to do so by a court or administrative tribunal that is handling a lawsuit or other dispute.

Law Enforcement  We may disclose your health information to law enforcement officials for the following reasons:

  • To comply with court orders or laws that we are required to follow;
  • To assist law enforcement officers with identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, witness, or missing person;
  • If you have been the victim of a crime and we determine that: (1) we have been unable to obtain your general written consent because of an emergency or your incapacity; (2) law enforcement officials need this information immediately to carry out their law enforcement duties; and (3) in our professional judgment disclosure to these officers is in your best interests;
  • If we suspect that your death resulted from criminal conduct;
  • If necessary to report a crime that occurred on our property; or
  • If necessary to report a crime discovered during an offsite medical emergency (for example, by emergency medical technicians at the scene of a crime).

To Avert A Serious And Imminent Threat To Health Or Safety.  We may use your health information or share it with others when necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety, or the health or safety of another person or the public.  In such cases, we will only share your information with someone able to help prevent the threat.  We may also disclose your health information to law enforcement officers if you tell us that you participated in a violent crime that may have caused serious physical harm to another person (unless you admitted that fact while in counseling), or if we determine that you escaped from lawful custody (such as a prison or mental health institution).

National Security And Intelligence Activities Or Protective Services.  We may disclose your health information to authorized federal officials who are conducting national security and intelligence activities or providing protective services to the President or other important officials.

Military And Veterans.  If you are in the Armed Forces, we may disclose health information about you to appropriate military command authorities for activities they deem necessary to carry out their military mission.  We may also release health information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.

Inmates And Correctional Institutions.  If you are an inmate or you are detained by a law enforcement officer, we may disclose your health information to the prison officers or law enforcement officers if necessary to provide you with health care, or to maintain safety, security and good order at the place where you are confined.  This includes sharing information that is necessary to protect the health and safety of other inmates or persons involved in supervising or transporting inmates.

Workers’ Compensation.  We may disclose your health information for workers’ compensation or similar programs that provide benefits for work-related injuries.

Coroners, Medical Examiners And Funeral Directors.  In the unfortunate event of your death, we may disclose your health information to a coroner or medical examiner.  This may be necessary, for example, to determine the cause of death.  We may also release this information to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.

Organ And Tissue Donation.  In the unfortunate event of your death, we may disclose your health information to organizations that procure or store organs, eyes or other tissues so that these organizations may investigate whether donation or transplantation is possible under applicable laws.

Research.In most cases, we will ask for your written authorization before using your health information or sharing it with others in order to conduct research.  However, under some circumstances, we may use and disclose your health information without your written authorization if we obtain approval through a special process to ensure that research without your written authorization poses minimal risk to your privacy.  Under no circumstances, however, would we allow researchers to use your name or identity publicly.  We may also release your health information without your written authorization to people who are preparing a future research project, so long as any information identifying you does not leave our agency.  In the unfortunate event of your death, we may share your health information with people who are conducting research using the information of deceased persons, as long as they agree not to remove from our agency any information that identifies you.

Exception If Information Is Completely Or Partially De-Identified.  We may use or disclose your health information if we have removed any information that might identify you so that the health information is “completely de-identified.”  We may also use and disclose “partially de-identified” information if the person who will receive the information agrees in writing to protect the privacy of the information as required by law.  Partially de-identified health information will not contain any information that would directly identify you (such as your name, street address, social security number, phone number, fax number, electronic mail address, website address, or license number).

YOUR RIGHTS TO ACCESS AND CONTROL YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION

We want you to know that you have the following rights to access and control your health information.  These rights are important because they will help you make sure that the health information we have about you is accurate.  They may also help you control the way we use your information and share it with others, or the way we communicate with you about your medical matters.

How To Access Your Health Information.  You generally have the right to inspect and copy your health information.

You have the right to inspect and obtain a paper and/or electronic copy of any of your health information that may be used to make decisions about you and your treatment for as long as we maintain this information in our records.  This includes medical and billing records.  To inspect or obtain a copy of your health information, please submit your request in writing to Americare Director of Medical Records. To obtain a copy of your billing information, please submit your request in writing to HIPAA Privacy officer (for paper copy) or HIPAA Security Officer (for electronic copy). If you would like an electronic copy of your health information, we will provide you a copy in the electronic form and format as requested as long as we can readily produce such information in the form requested.  Otherwise, we will cooperate with you to provide a readable electronic form and format as agreed. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies we use to fulfill your request.  Under New York State law, the fee may not exceed $0.75 per page when patients or their personal representatives request copies of health information.

We will respond to your request for inspection of records within 10 days from receipt of your request. We ordinarily will respond to requests for copies within 30 days.  If we need additional time to respond to a request for copies, we will notify you in writing within the time frame above to explain the reason for the delay and when you can expect to have a final answer to your request.

Under certain very limited circumstances, we may deny your request to inspect or obtain a copy of your information.  If we do, we will provide you with a summary of the information instead.  We will also provide a written notice that explains our reasons for providing only a summary, and a complete description of your rights to have that decision reviewed and how you can exercise those rights.  The notice will also include information on how to file a complaint about these issues with us or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  If we have reason to deny only part of your request, we will provide complete access to the remaining parts after excluding the information we cannot let you inspect or copy.

How To Correct Your Health Information.  You have the right to request that we amend your health information if you believe it is inaccurate or incomplete.

If you believe that the health information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information.  You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept in our records.  To request an amendment, please write to HIPAA Privacy officer. Your request should include the reasons why you think we should make the amendment.  Ordinarily we will respond to your request within 60 days.  If we need additional time to respond, we will notify you in writing within 60 days to explain the reason for the delay and when you can expect to have a final answer to your request.

If we deny part or your entire request, we will provide a written notice that explains our reasons for doing so.  You will have the right to have certain information related to your requested amendment included in your records.  For example, if you disagree with our decision, you will have an opportunity to submit a statement explaining your disagreement, which we will include in your records.  We will also include information on how to file a complaint with us or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  These procedures will be explained in more detail in any written denial notice we send you.

How To Identify Others Who Have Received Your Health Information.  You have the right to receive an “accounting of disclosures,” which identifies certain persons or organizations to whom we have disclosed your health information in accordance with the protections described in this Notice of Privacy Practices.

The accounting of disclosures identifies certain other persons or organizations to whom we have disclosed your health information in accordance with applicable law and the protections afforded in this Notice of Privacy Practices. The accounting of disclosures will only include disclosures made within the last six (6) years of your request.

An accounting of disclosures also does not include information about the following disclosures:

  • Disclosures we made to you or your personal representative;
  • Disclosures we made pursuant to your written authorization;
  • Disclosures we made for treatment, payment or business operations;
  • Disclosures made from the patient directory;
  • Disclosures made to your friends and family involved in your care or payment for your care;
  • Disclosures that were incidental to permissible uses and disclosures of your health information;
  • Disclosures for purposes of research, public health or our business operations of limited portions of your health information that do not directly identify you;
  • Disclosures made to federal officials for national security and intelligence activities;
  • Disclosures about inmates to correctional institutions or law enforcement officers;
  • Disclosures made before April 14, 2003.

 

To request an accounting of disclosures please write to HIPAA Privacy officer.  Your request must state a time period within the past six years for the disclosures you want us to include.  You have a right to receive one accounting within every 12 month period for free.  However, we may charge you for the cost of providing any additional accounting in that same 12 month period.  We will always notify you of any cost involved so that you may choose to withdraw or modify your request before any costs are incurred.

Ordinarily we will respond to your request for an accounting within 60 days.  If we need additional time to prepare the accounting you have requested, we will notify you in writing about the reason for the delay and the date when you can expect to receive the accounting.  In rare cases, we may have to delay providing you with the accounting without notifying you because a law enforcement official or government agency has asked us to do so.

Right to Receive Notification of a Breach. You have the right to be notified if there is a probable compromise of your unsecured protected health information within sixty (60) days of the discovery of the breach. The notice will include a description of what happened, including the date, the type of information involved in the breach, steps you should take to protect yourself from potential harm, a brief description of the investigation into the breach, mitigation of harm to you and protection against further breaches and contact procedures to answer your questions.

How To Request Additional Privacy Protections.  You have the right to request further restrictions on the way we use your health information or share it with others.  We are not required to agree to the restriction you request, but if we do, we will be bound by our agreement.

You have the right to request that we further restrict the way we use and disclose your health information to treat your condition, collect payment for that treatment, or run our business operations.  You may also request that we limit how we disclose information about you to family or friends involved in your care.  You have the right to request that your health information not be disclosed to a health plan if you have paid for the services in full, and the disclosure is not otherwise required by law.  The request for restriction will only be applicable to that particular service. You will have to request a restriction for each service thereafter. For example, you could request that we not disclose information about a surgery you had.  To request restrictions, please write to HIPAA Privacy officer.  Your request should include (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit how we use the information, how we share it with others, or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply.

We are not required to agree to your request for a restriction, and in some cases the restriction you request may not be permitted under law.  However, if we do agree, we will be bound by our agreement unless the information is needed to provide you with emergency treatment or comply with the law.  Once we have agreed to a restriction, you have the right to revoke the restriction at any time.  Under some circumstances, we will also have the right to revoke the restriction as long as we notify you before doing so; in other cases, we will need your permission before we can revoke the restriction.

How To Request More Confidential Communications.  You have the right to request that we contact you in a way that is more confidential for you, such as at home instead of at work.  We will try to accommodate all reasonable requests.

You have the right to request that we communicate with you about your medical matters in a more confidential way by requesting that we communicate with you by alternative means or at alternative locations.  For example, you may ask that we contact you at home instead of at work.  To request more confidential communications, please write to HIPAA Privacy officer. We will not ask you the reason for your request, and we will try to accommodate all reasonable requests.  Please specify in your request how or where you wish to be contacted, and how payment for your health care will be handled if we communicate with you through this alternative method or location.

How To Learn About Special Protections For HIV, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases And Genetic Information.  Special privacy protections apply to HIV-related information, alcohol and substance abuse treatment information, mental health information, sexually transmitted diseases information and genetic information.  Some parts of this general Notice of Privacy Practices may not apply to these types of information.  If your treatment involves this information, you will be provided with separate notices explaining how the information will be protected.  To request copies of these other notices now, please contact our Privacy Officer at the umber which appears at the beginning of this Notice.

How Someone May Act On Your Behalf.  You have the right to name a personal representative who may act on your behalf to control the privacy of your health information.

How To Obtain A Copy Of This Notice.  You have the right to a paper or electronic copy of this notice.  You may request a paper or electronic copy at any time, even if you have previously agreed to receive this notice electronically.  To do so, please call our Privacy Officer at the number above.

How To Obtain A Copy Of Revised Notice.  We may change our privacy practices from time to time.  If we do, we will revise this notice so you will have an accurate summary of our practices.  The revised notice will apply to all of your health information.  You will also be able to obtain your own copy of the revised notice. You will also be able to obtain your own copies by accessing our website at www.americareny.com‎ or calling our office at 718-872-2400 and requesting a copy from a Medical Records Department.  The effective date of the notice will always be noted in the top right corner of the first page.  We are required to abide by the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.

How To File A Complaint.  If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with us or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  To file a complaint with us, please contact our Privacy Officer at (718) 872-2400.  No one will retaliate or take action against you for filing a complaint.