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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Tim Murphy Co-Host Briefing on HIPAA Privacy Rule

Feb 13, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – (Friday, February 13th, 2015) – On Thursday, February 12th , 2015, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) co-hosted a bipartisan briefing titled “Confusion as an Obstacle to Treatment: A Briefing on the HIPAA Privacy Rule” in conjunction with the Treatment Advocacy Center. The Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996 in order to improve the continuity of insurance coverage and to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within healthcare. The HIPAA Privacy Rule, which ensures protection of confidential healthcare information, has resulted in confusion and obstacles to treatment within the mental health and substance use disorder communities.

“HIPAA was designed to protect patients by keeping their medical records confidential,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “While the majority of the medical community has seen positive results from HIPAA, individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders often face obstacles to treatment because of the Privacy Rule within HIPAA. First, we must strive to make HIPAA clearer to providers, patients, and loved ones. Second, we must work to remove the barriers that parents and caregivers of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) face when seeking treatment for their loved ones.”

“HIPAA blocks families from communicating with doctors about a loved one with a serious mental illness, and the results are often tragic,” said Congressman Murphy. “Our legislation, the Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act, will clarify HIPAA so families are part of the frontline care delivery team and are empowered to help those they love.”

During the briefing, panelists shared stories about their personal and professional encounters with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Mark Filler of the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation and Kathy Harkey of NAMI-Central Virginia told stories of loved ones who lost their lives as a result of mental illness or substance abuse; Mike Gimbel highlighted his personal experience with addiction and his professional experience as the former Drug Czar of Baltimore County; and Dr. Michael Morse provided the valuable perspective of a resident psychiatric physician at George Washington University Hospital. Each panelist noted that HIPAA regulations force unnecessary hardship on patients, their families, and providers as they seek or provide treatment.

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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas, which includes Downtown Dallas, Fair Park, Kessler Park, Old East Dallas, Pleasant Grove, South Dallas & South Oak Cliff; all of Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Hutchins, Lancaster & Wilmer and parts of Ferris, Glenn Heights, South Grand Prairie, Oak Lawn, Ovilla, Uptown/Victory Park and West Dallas.

CONTACT: Yinka Robinson | (202)225-8885