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VERIFY: Can doctors charge patients to fill out vulnerability form for COVID-19 vaccine?

First Coast News asked the president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation to find out.

FLORIDA, USA — The new Florida Health forms which deem a patient “medically vulnerable” will be required starting Friday, for anyone who falls under that category and wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Before you head to your doctor’s office to get your form filled out, the First Coast News On Your Side Team is verifying for a viewer – is it legal for a doctor to charge patients to fill out these forms?

“Yes, you can legally charge to fill out those forms just like with any other forms," Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation.

Joshi said it's based on the federal HIPPA law, which “permits a covered entity to charge a reasonable, cost-based fee."

“That's very open to interpretation," he admitted. "But typically, a reasonable amount means enough to cover your costs of doing that particular thing. So, whether it's making photocopies or filling out forms, the time for the person to do it, etc."

For example, Dr. Joshi said, the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA forms take a lot of research through the chart to fill out.

“It would probably be somewhere close to that $25 range," he added. "But to fill out a one page form, typically, there's very little charge for that."

Joshi said his allergy practice was been swamped. However, it is not charging patients to fill out the form.

“It is a lot of work on our part, you know, coming up with citing the forms over and over and over again, but it is a good sign that people are interested in getting the vaccine," he explained.

Since all three authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are for Emergency Use, medical experts said, federal and state governments are in charge of distributing the vaccines. So far, they have gone to state-run sites, hospitals and pharmacies.

Dr. Joshi said his office, along with other Florida doctor’s offices have already qualified to be a COVID-19 vaccine site, but have not yet received any shipments from the Florida Department of Health.