In September 2017, a new law went into effect that requires health care providers to provide medical records at no charge, when needed to support an application, claim or appeal for a government benefit or program. Here's what the law adds to Mental Hygiene Law § 331 and NYS Public Health Law § 17:
"...NO CHARGE MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER THIS SECTION FOR PROVIDING, RELEASING, OR DELIVERING MEDICAL RECORDS OR COPIES OF MEDICAL RECORDS WHERE REQUESTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUPPORTING AN APPLICATION, CLAIM OR APPEAL FOR ANY GOVERNMENT BENEFIT OR PROGRAM, PROVIDED THAT, WHERE A PROVIDER MAINTAINS MEDICAL RECORDS IN ELECTRONIC FORM, IT SHALL PROVIDE THE COPY IN EITHER ELECTRONIC OR PAPER FORM, AS REQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT BENEFIT OR PROGRAM, OR AT THE PATIENT'S REQUEST."
If the medical records are maintained electronically, the provider must provide them in the format requested by the patient or the government program - electronic or in paper. When requesting records, you should specify which format is preferred.
Enactment of this law was a huge win for New Yorkers with chronic conditions or disabilities, who need their medical records to prove disability for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, Medicaid, SNAP/Food Stamps, public assistance, and other public benefits. Read more about enactment of the law (A7842/S6078) in this news article.