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PPAO Praises House for Protecting Patient Privacy

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon today praised the Oregon House of Representatives for passing a landmark bill that will protect patient privacy. Only one other state has taken proactive action to protect patient access to confidential health care in this way.

Oregon House Democrats demonstrated solid support for House Bill 2758, which passed by a 34-25 vote with 1 abstention. The legislation allows patients to ask insurance carriers to send communications directly to the member receiving services, not the primary policyholder. Communications from an insurer can take many forms, including Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements, an annual summary of services and claims information - and they can be sent via mail, email or other electronic means.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), testified on the House floor that HB 2758 will protect the privacy of a domestic violence survivor escaping an abuser who is also the policyholder for her insurance: "The EOB could be sent to the very person who she's gotten away from."

As the stepmother of a 21-year-old, Representative Williamson expressed concern that a lack of confidentiality could discourage her family members from accessing the healthcare services they need: "I would never want her not to see a healthcare provider because I, as her stepmother, would receive her EOB."

Unwanted disclosure of health information through insurance communications affects all people enrolled as a dependent in a health plan, especially minors and young adults insured on their parents' plan, survivors of domestic abuse and individuals seeking mental health care, substance abuse treatment and other sensitive services.

Access to critical healthcare services is undermined by the practice of sending details of a person's health visit to the policyholder instead of the patient themselves. Strong protections around confidentiality will ensure that all plan members can access the health care they need - leading to healthier people, healthier families and a healthier Oregon.

"We want to thank our Democratic women's health champions in the Oregon House, particularly Representative Jennifer Williamson," said Laura Terrill Patten, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. "We look forward to swift consideration in the Oregon Senate so we can get this bill to Governor Brown for her signature."

Posted on April 30, 2015 in News.
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