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Township Uncertain of Health Insurance Ruling Appeal

Middletown will have 45 days to appeal once order is received

Middletown town hall file photo.
Middletown town hall file photo.

Middletown officials have not yet made a decision whether they will appeal a Superior Court ruling ordering the township to release employee health care coverage information.

Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled on Jan. 7 that Middletown must disclose the names of employees enrolled in its self-insured group health care plan. The township has 45 days from when the order is issued to appeal the ruling, said township attorney Brian Nelson.

The attorney said Thursday following a Township Committee meeting that he has seen a draft of the order, and the final version may be ready within a week.

Middletown resident Lee Brewer filed suit after the township denied a July request for those records, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The township's denial of Brewer's request cited concern that the documents could be combined with other data to "deduce protected information offensive to individual privacy rights under HIPAA," the court ruling reads.

Members of the Township Committee discussed the matter during a closed executive session Thursday, before the regular meeting’s open public portion.

Nelson said the township fears it could be liable for an “immense” federal penalty if any information released is used to identify health insurance enrollees.

“That’s the concern of the township,” he said. “The federal law says its private information and we can’t release it.”

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