Lois W. Kolkhorst, State Representative












May 4, 2011
For information, contact: Chris Steinbach, Chief of Staff


(Austin, TX) House lawmakers approved new measures today that seek to protect Texans’ private medical information and toughen the privacy laws on personal medical records.

Banning the for-profit sale of personal health information, House Bill 300 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) sets up a process for notifying patients of any electronic transfer of their medical records. "As medical offices and hospitals transfer their files to digital records and more local health information exchanges are created, we must be sure that our right to privacy keeps up with this new technology," Kolkhorst said.

"Our medical records are perhaps our most sensitive and private information. It's something that should only be used for your health and well-being, not to be collected and sold."

The proposal received unanimous bipartisan support by House members and now heads to the Senate, where a similar but less-restrictive medical privacy bill has also been passed.

As Chair of the House Committee on Public Health, Kolkhorst has said tougher privacy protections has been one of her committee's top priorities for the 2011 legislative session. Under the Kolkhorst bill, companies or health providers who break the rules and sell medical data would be subject to heightened fines, up to $3,000 per violation, and legal damages up to $1.5 million.

National privacy advocates such as Dr. Deborah Peel of the Coalition for Patient Privacy say HB 300 is a vast improvement over federal laws, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), going further to protect Texas patients from those who would illicitly collect, sell or misuse health data.

Supporters during testimony said the bill would be landmark legislation, predicting that Texas could lead the nation in setting the bar for privacy standards.

The bill also gained the support of the Texas Medical Association, the physicians advocacy group representing over 45,000 doctors across the state. "Without these new protections, your most private medical records could be shared without your knowledge the same way our credit scores are bought and sold," Kolkhorst said. "This is an individual liberty issue more than purely a medical one."
For more information, read the complete HB 300.








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