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Senate Passes Medical Privacy Bill
From staff reports
The Senate on Thursday passed Senate Bill 622, legislation authored by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to strengthen the protection of Texans' personal health information.
"Medical records include highly sensitive information, and the misuse of this information can put patients at risk for severe financial and personal consequences," Nelson said. "This bill protects patients from having their information improperly sold to unauthorized third parties and ensures that patients have the right to access their own electronic medical records."
SB 622 updates Texas' medical privacy laws to reflect advances in health information technology. It expands upon federal privacy protections, prohibits the sale of personal health information, increases protections of health information at our state agencies, and strengthens penalties for crimes involving personal health information.
Key provisions of SB 622 would:
· prohibit the sale of protected health information;
· increase criminal penalties for theft of medical records, breach of computer security, and health care fraud, including Medicaid fraud, that involves stolen health information;
· increase the civil penalties the Texas Attorney General may assess for violations of the Texas Medical Privacy Act;
· require health care providers using electronic records to provide a person's health record in an electronic format within 15 days of the request; and
· require the Texas Attorney General to maintain a website providing information about consumer privacy rights and complaint procedures.
In 2001, Nelson authored the Texas Medical Privacy Act, which prevented the transfer of patient data from health care providers to marketing or advertising entities without patient consent and gave patients the right to inspect their records for accuracy.