A recently passed law in the state of Washington puts new safeguards on consumer health data, giving residents some of the broadest protections in the country when it comes to how outside groups can use information about their health.
Washington's My Health, My Data Act "requires companies to get explicit consent from a consumer to collect, share or sell the consumer’s health data." Companies open themselves to lawsuits if they're not compliant.
For Washington residents, the law will add new protections that even federal rules like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act wouldn't cover. HIPAA prevents disclosure of health information, but for the most part it only binds groups like traditional health providers or insurers.
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The law is one of five newly signed bills, which on top of the new data safeguards also protect access to abortion medication, protect medical records from out-of-state subpoenas or investigations, shield health care providers from out-of-state punishment for providing abortion care, and prevent insurers from sticking clients with cost-sharing for abortion services.
Meanwhile, on the federal level, the Department of Health and Human Services is weighing a rule change that would move abortion health care information under the protection of HIPAA in cases where that data is part of a legal proceeding.
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