It would create the National Task Force on Data Protection, which would evaluate and provide input to address cybersecurity risks and privacy concerns.
Photo/Thumb have been modified. Courtesy of Book Catalog via flickr.
Two senators have introduced a bipartisan bill that would address cutting-edge health data privacy concerns. The Protecting Personal Health Data Act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Lisa Murkowski, would require the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement regulations for new health technologies like wearable devices, mobile health apps and direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits, which are not covered by existing laws.
The proposed legislation answers the call of many experts who believe the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is outdated. Others have claimed that flexibility is baked in to HIPAA.
“This legislation will protect consumers’ personal health data by requiring that regulations be issued by the federal agencies that have the expertise to keep up with advances in technology,” Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said in a statement.
The proposed bill cites an HHS report to Congress that said trackers, social media sites where individuals share health information and other common technologies used today did not exist when Congress enacted HIPAA in 1996.
Under the Protecting Personal Health Data Act, the secretary of HHS and the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the National Coordinator for Health IT and other stakeholders will enforce regulations to strengthen privacy and security protections for personal health data collected, processed, analyzed or used by consumer devices, services, applications and software.
The secretary would also establish the National Task Force on Health Data Protection, which would consist of no more than 15 appointed members. The task force would operate for five years before submitting a recommendation to Congress after the termination date to determine whether the group should continue its work.
The task force would:
“This legislation takes important steps to ensure guidelines are created for security and privacy protections of modern health information,” Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said in a statement. “Our policies must evolve to keep up with advancements in recent technology. By enacting important modern protections for consumers’ personal health data, our bill puts the privacy of American consumers first.”
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