A special committee in the house has recently passed a bill that would alter HIPAA regulations in regards to patient health information being accessed and used by researchers. The bill itself is called The 21st Century Cure bill. It calls for provisions that have proven to be highly controversial in discussions. These provisions would make significant changes to the Privacy Rule in HIPAA legislation.
The bill calls for revisions and clarifications on the HIPAA Privacy Rule in regards to patient health information release for use in research. In particular the information would deal with finding cures to various diseases and conditions. While most patients want their information to be used to such ends, the revisions would allow patient health information without patient authorization when it is in regards to use in research for a cure or something similar. The House committee passed the bill with a unanimous vote, so the next stop for the bill is the floor of the House of Representatives itself.
The bill would relax the security requirements around patient health information that is intended to be used for research. However, a large controversy is taking place around these new rules since a large portion of the information would be very easily identifiable genetic material. Considering that such highly sensitive genetic data could be covered by these rules, experts are predicting that the new rules will receive large revisions themselves in order to continue to protect patients.