Federal authorities have begun investigating the actions of former attorney general Eric Holder's wife, an obstetrician who is accused of violating health privacy laws, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon.
She allegedly misused her former patients' records to promote her new menopause relief business, the report confirmed.
It is investigators with the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services who have begun looking into the allegations against Sharon Malone, with up to 27,000 patients affected.
They were patients at one time at Malone's former medical practice, called Foxhall Associates, HHS records revealed.
The Free Beacon said Foxhall is running its own investigation, and alerted HHS to possible problems, including claims Malone "retained a list of its patients’ names, contacts, and insurance information after leaving the practice in December 2020."
The report explained the context of the dispute: "Malone’s legal troubles come as her husband, who led the Department of Justice for six years and is now one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent activist attorneys, has denounced the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as 'an attack on women and on every citizen’s right to privacy' and called for Democrats to pack the court with left-leaning judges."
The investigation focuses on claims Malone turned over the patient records to a new employer, Alloy, a telehealth startup that she worked with others to begin last year.
The patient information reportedly was used to send out marketing emails.
Alloy has claimed Malone legitimately kept the records, but that's being denied by Foxhall lawyers.
"Health privacy experts told the Free Beacon that the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, prohibits marketing to patients without their consent—and Malone could face steep financial penalties if the HHS investigation leads to charges," the report explained.
In fact, Abner Weintraub, a HIPAA compliance consultant, confirmed "consent is required from a patient." He suggested "significant fines and penalties" could result.
The Free Beacon reported Malone left Foxhall in 2020 but kept a list of patients' names, phones, emails and more.
Then she joined Alloy and "turned the list over to [Alloy], who then sent out emails to a portion of the Foxhall patients on the list," a legal filing explained.
At the time, Allow co-CEO Monica Molenaar said the contact information was given to Malone, and used for "an update."
Foxhall lawyers disputed that.
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