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IMPACT OF THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION GA-0519 ON MEDICAL INFORMATION & HIPAA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Reprinted with permission - About the author

IMPACT OF THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION GA-0519 ON MEDICAL INFORMATION & HIPAA

By Peter MacKoul, Esq. HIPAA Solutions, LC

A NOTE TO THE READER: Please note this information is offered for informational purposes only and is NOT intended as legal advice. Please refer to an Attorney for any questions relating to the content of this document.

Three questions need to be asked to understand the impact of the AG’s opinion on medical information and HIPAA. This article will ask and answer those questions which may assist readers in understanding the impact of the AG’s opinion on medical information and HIPAA. .

HOW DOES THE RECENT TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION (GA-0519) RELATE TO HIPAA?

The simplest way to understand how this opinion relates to medical information about individuals is to understand that the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA Privacy Rule, protects against the illegal use and disclosure of individual medical records, which usually contain Social Security Numbers.

That’s a clear example of how preventing the distribution of SSN’s can affect the distribution of, or posting of medical records to the Internet by counties, cities, School districts, and private organizations across Texas and the nation.

However, there are other significant connections that must be made between this AG opinion that all governmental entities, officials, and private entities in the Texas must be aware of including potential criminal penalties for the illegal distribution of both SSN’s and medical information.

IS MEDICAL INFORMATION CONSIDERED CONFIDENTIAL UNDER PIA, & DOES HIPAA APPLY TO TEXAS?

The Attorney General’s opinion, correctly states that Social Security Numbers are considered “confidential by law,” thus not disclosable under the Texas Public Information Act, (or the PIA). This opinion was based on established law on the State and Federal levels, for example the opinion cited the “Federal Social Security Act,” of 1990. . . continued on next page

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