"But then [Armstrong] discloses the information he does have," indicating roughly the time in which these healthcare expenses were incurred, the amount, and that it was for "distressed babies," she says.
No Name? It's Still a Violation
"There's a general misconception that if you don't put a name on it, if you don't say (so and so's) 'distressed baby,' that's not a HIPAA violation. But that's not correct. Because the standard is, can the information be used when it's combined with other information to reasonably identify the individual?"
In this case—a large media company employing journalists—the answer was, of course, yes.
As anyone could quickly surmise, anyone who worked with these parents and their friends, who knew of their suffering, quickly figured out the names of one, if not both, of the two parents whose babies Armstrong referenced.
One went public with her outrage.
Deanna Fei, wife of AOL editor Peter Goodman, said in an article posted on Slate," I take issue with how [Armstrong] reduced my daughter to a 'distressed baby' who cost the company too much money. How he blamed the saving of her life for his decision to scale back employee benefits."