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Senators sound the alarm on privacy, call for HIPAA update

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In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on July 1, Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., called on HHS to use its powers to ensure the HIPAA Privacy Rule is better positioned to protect the health information of patients seeking reproductive healthcare.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade has created “profound uncertainty for patients concerning their right to privacy when making the deeply personal decision to have an abortion,” said the senators .

As policy experts have noted , the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision has ushered in not just a fraught new era for reproductive health, but also one for data privacy.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule – which healthcare organizations have called to be modernized for years , even before the recent SCOTUS ruling – is now insufficient to protect the health information of patients.

“When HIPAA was signed into law in 1996, Roe v. Wade had upheld the right to an abortion for over two decades,” said Bennet and Cortez Masto. “When the HIPAA Privacy Rule was issued in 2000, it would have been unimaginable that the Supreme Court would strip away this fundamental right more than 20 years […]

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