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The tipping point for Jeanette Laffoon came in 2016 when one of her clients was charged $900 for a copy of his medical records. An attorney who represents clients in Social Security disabilities cases, Laffoon was optimistic when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act passed into federal law in 2009, assuming that it would make life easier for those she serves.

Jeanette Laffoon grew tired of watching her disabled clients get charged exorbitant fees to access their own medical records. Photo credit: Jeanette LaffoonIn practice, however, the law has not made as much of a difference as she had hoped. Low-income clients in Washington State applying for Social Security benefits are still routinely charged a $25 fee plus $1.12 per page to access the medical records they need to submit. Depending on the size of the records, the cost can be hundreds of dollars for people living on $197 per month – all simply to receive copies of documents they are legally entitled to. “The practical aspect of these really high-cost medical records has prevented people from being able to prove that they’re disabled,” says Laffoon.

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