P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2011
AUSTIN — The Senate Health & Human Services Committee today passed Senate Bill 622 by Texas State 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 lead to not only financial, but also personal consequences for patients.
"There is a sacred bond between patient and physician, and confidentiality is at the core of that relationship. Patients will not be forthcoming with their physicians if they believe that information will be shared with unauthorized third parties," said Senator Nelson.
The bill, which now goes to the full Senate, updates Texas' medical privacy laws to reflect advances in health information technology, increases criminal penalties for theft of protected health information and protects consumers' rights in acquiring electronic records from health care providers.
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 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, Senator 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.