A few weeks back, the San Jose Mercury obtained vaccine medical exemptions from eight Bay Area school districts. It seems to me that the release of these records violated federal school privacy laws (FERPA), but unfortunately, there does not appear to be a federal private remedy or right of action which the affected families can utilize. The Mercury's obtaining and publicizing this information highlights the danger of the City Attorney's attempt to obtain the medical records of Dr. Stoller's medical records of his vaccine exempt patients.
The article also indicated that several NorCal physicians, including Dr. Stoller, are under investigation by the Medical Board. That information was derived from publicly filed court case documents (motions to comply with a Medical Board Subpoena for medical records held by an HMO or a school district), and thus there is no illegality or impropriety in that part of the story.
Yesterday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee moved SB 276 to the suspense file. I have seen some reports which state or imply that this is a partial or interim victory. I don't see it that way. It seems to me that this is what happened in the Senate, and this bill was always destined to go that route because of the financial impact. But make no mistake, this bill will not die because of the financial cost, because to its supporters, it is a matter of grave public health, and the asserted benefit will be viewed by most legislators (read, almost all democrats) as cheap at twice or five times the cost.
Circling back to Dr. Stoller's lawsuit and the San Francisco City Attorney's subpoena: Dr. Stoller has not provided the City Attorney with any of his records, and will not do so unless and until a court orders him to comply, and, he exhausts all efforts to stay such an order. So, in one sense, every day Dr. Stoller does not turn over his patients' medical records, is another day his patients' privacy rights are protected.
In light of all of the things going on with SB 276, and the Medical Board, and for other technical and procedural reasons relating to the way civil lawsuits proceed, we have decided to file an amended complaint, which will address some of these new issue, and will ensure that there can be an effective solution to these interrelated problems. That's about all I can say about it right now. You'll just have to stay tuned. It will happen before the end of the month.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.