|DATE:||January 6, 2021|
|SUBJECT:||Informational Memorandum: Participant Requests to Share WIC Records with Private Physicians or other Private Health Care Providers 1|
Special Nutrition Programs
MARO, MPRO, MWRO, NERO
SERO, SWRO and WRO
|WIC State Agency Directors
All WIC State Agencies
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has received questions about participant information sharing between WIC clinics and private health care providers. This memorandum sets forth the applicable requirements in WIC regulations that allow participant information to be shared.
Per WIC Regulations 7 CFR 246.26(d), applicant and participant information must be kept confidential in accordance with federal, state, and local laws, unless otherwise stated. If a participant requests to share his/her information with their private physician or other private health care provider, the participant must sign a release form allowing the WIC agency to share his/her information (7 CFR 246.26(d)(4)).
7 CFR 246.26(d)(4) also allows state agencies to include release forms authorizing disclosure of WIC records to private physicians or other private health care providers as part of the WIC application and certification process. The state or local agency must inform applicants and participants that signing the form(s) is not a condition of eligibility, and refusing to sign the form(s) will not affect the applicant’s or participant’s application or participation in the program.
Lastly, WIC Regulations at 7 CFR 246.7(e)(1)(ii)(B) allow referral data to be used to meet the requirement for the hematological test for anemia. WIC state agencies may choose to use this flexibility to reduce duplicative testing and minimize participant burden in the program.
WIC state agencies should work with the health care community to consider how to best collaborate and share information. State agencies are further encouraged to develop policies and procedures for their local agencies on how participant information may be shared, and train local agency staff as appropriate. FNS strongly recommends state agencies consult their legal counsel to address the sharing of participant personally identifiable information (PII), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, PL 104-191), and other relevant laws as needed.
State agencies may direct any questions to their respective FNS regional office.
Supplemental Food Programs Division