Legal Aspects Manual

0130.005.00.05 Legal Basis

  1. #45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 205.50 provides for the safeguarding of information and is the federal legal basis for policy in AFDC. The legal basis for policy in Medicaid is in #42 CFR, Sections 431.300 – 431.307.45 Code of Federal Regulations, Sections 164.500 – 164.534, provides for the privacy of individually identifiable health information. Refer to 0130.005.10 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act below for the instructions on how to comply with 45 CFR Part 164.
    1. The use or disclosure of information concerning applicants and recipients will be limited to purposes directly connected with the administration of any federal or federally-assisted program which provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to individuals on the basis of need.
    2. Directly connected includes:
      • Establishing eligibility
      • Determining amount of assistance
      • Providing services for applicants and recipients and,
      • Any investigation, prosecution, or criminal or civil proceeding in connection with the administration of the programs.
    3. When requests for information are received from sources other than identified in a. above, including governmental authorities, the courts, or law enforcement officials, the following apply:
      • The family or individual should be informed of the request and permission obtained to meet the request.
      • In emergency situations when the consent of the individual cannot be obtained, (s)he will be notified immediately.
    4. If a subpoena is issued for the case record or for any agency representative to testify concerning an applicant or recipient, the attention of the court must be called to the statutory provisions against disclosure of information.
  2. Section 208.120, RSMo contains the following provisions regarding the safeguarding of case information in Income Maintenance cases:
    1. Restrictions on Disclosure: “For the protection of applicants and recipients, all officers and employees of the State of Missouri are prohibited, except as hereinafter provided, from disclosing any information obtained by them in the discharge of their official duties relative to the identity of applicants for or recipients of benefits or the contents of any records, files, papers, and communications, except in proceedings or investigations where eligibility of an applicant to receive benefits, or the amount received or to be received by any recipient, is called into question, or for the purposes directly connected with the administration of public assistance. In any judicial proceedings except such proceeding as are directly concerned with the administration of these programs, such information obtained in the discharge of official duties relative to the identity of applicants for or recipients of benefits, and records, files, papers, communications and their contents shall be confidential and not admissible in evidence.”
    2. Payrolls Available for Public Inspection: “The Family Support Division shall in each county welfare office maintain monthly a report showing the name and address of all recipients certified by such county welfare office to receive old age assistance, aid to dependent children and aid to the permanently and totally disabled benefits, together with the amount paid to each recipient during the previous month, and such report and information contained therein shall be open to public inspection at all times during the regular office hours of the county welfare office; provided, however, that all information regarding applicants or recipients other than names, addresses and amounts of grant shall be considered as confidential.”
    3. Publication Restriction and the Penalty Clause: “It shall be unlawful for any person, association, firm, corporation or other agency to solicit, disclose, receive, make use of or authorize, knowingly permit, participate in or acquiesce in the use of any name or lists of names for commercial or political purposes of any nature; or for any name or list of names of recipients secured from such report in the county welfare office to be published in any manner. Anyone willfully or knowingly violating any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. If the violation is by other than an individual, the penalty may be adjudged against any officer, agent, employee, servant or other person of the association, firm, corporation or other agency who committed or participated in such violation and is found guilty thereof.”

      (1952) (Dictum) This statute does not forbid disclosure of the contents of old age assistance records in response to subpoena duces tecum where such contents are pertinent to a judicial inquiry. Jones v. Giannola (A.), 252 S.W. (2d)660.

      Note: The programs included in the statute are AFDC, GR, MA, NC, SAB, and SP. The Family Support Division, by policy, applied the same principle of confidentiality to the BP program.