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Rep. Matsui Introduces Legislation to Increase Clarity on HIPAA Privacy Rules

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Rep. Matsui Introduces Legislation to Increase Clarity on HIPAA Privacy Rules

June 11, 2015 | Privacy & HIPAA | Uncategorized | Comments
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Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced legislation this week aimed at clarifying often misunderstood guidance regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Specifically, the legislation aims to make clear HIPAA privacy rules as they apply to patients with mental illness by creating training programs to educate providers, patients and families about what health information can be shared and under what circumstances.

“Healthcare providers and administrators have long lacked clarity on HIPAA rules and thus have been cautious to share information with family members and caregivers of patients,” said Congresswoman Matsui.  “This lack of clarity creates significant challenges to patients, their doctors and family. Sharing the right information with the right family and caregivers can help a patient, while still protecting their privacy. Assisting family and caregivers with being involved in a patient’s care can be of the utmost importance, and can even mean life or death.”

The HIPAA Privacy Rules provide consumers with important rights and protections with respect to how their health information is used and disclosed. These insurances are critical to maintaining an individual’s trust, especially for those seeking treatment for mental illness. However, there has been a consistent and long-lasting misunderstanding of the Privacy Rules by providers and consumers alike as it relates to sharing pertinent mental health information. Representative Matsui’s legislation aims to educate stakeholders on existing HIPAA rules and regulations to better serve the mental health population.

“For far too long, too many have misunderstood or hidden behind HIPAA,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “The National Council applauds Congresswoman Matsui’s efforts to help educate and inform us about how we can appropriately and permissibly share patient health information so as to ensure patients’ health and safety while protecting their privacy.”

Next week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will be holding a hearing to examine this and other recently introduced mental health legislation, including Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646).