TMA Testimony by Howard Marcus, MD
Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Senate Bill 1610
April 9, 2013
Good morning madam chair, Senator Schwertner, and members of the committee. I am Dr. Howard Marcus. I am an internist who practices here in Austin. Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify here today.
On behalf of the 47,000 physician and medical student members of the Texas Medical Association, I am here to express our strong support for Senate Bill 1610.
The 2011 Texas Legislature passed House Bill 300, with TMA’s support. That bill enacted a robust new state law protecting the privacy of Texans’ medical records. That law, however, unintentionally introduced some questions for health care providers as they work to comply with the new requirements.
SB 1610 offers targeted amendments that maintain the strength of those privacy protections while clarifying and simplifying the process of complying with the law.
SB 1610 eliminates legal confusion by setting a single Texas standard for the elements for compliance. In those rare but very unfortunate instances when we have to notify patients that the privacy of their medical records may have been breached, SB 1610 eliminates the daunting task of complying with multiple, constantly changing laws passed in other states. We don’t need to rely on other state legislatures to protect and inform our patients, and to direct the Texas health care system.
SB 1610 also allows health care providers to send the notice of a possible breach to our patients’ last known address. Thus regardless of a patient’s origination, he or she is still protected.
In conclusion, we believe the very focused amendments contained in SB 1610:
- Preserve the strong protections in existing state privacy law;
- Maintain the security of private medical records for all patients, including those who have moved out of state; and
- Frankly, should improve compliance with current law by simplifying the process for compliance.
Again, we strongly support Senate Bill 1610 and urge you to pass it as soon as possible.
I will be happy to answer any questions.
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