VT: Health reform, public records law converge in lawsuit

A lawsuit argued in Montpelier on Tuesday will decide whether a key part of Vermont’s health care reform efforts is subject to the state’s public records law.

Vermont Information Technology Leaders is technically a private nonprofit organization. It’s better known by its acronym, VITL, and it’s the organization that’s responsible for developing the Vermont Health Information Exchange. That’s a system that is designed to allow different doctors with different electronic medical records software to easily share information about patients. And VITL built that system with guidance from the Legislature and millions of dollars from taxpayers.

That’s why citizen advocate Steven Whitaker says VITL should be subject to the state’s public records law. He argued in Washington County Superior Court that even though it’s a private nonprofit, it meets the legal standard of being a “functional equivalent” of a government agency.