House Protects Access to Confidential Healthcare

Representative Mike Connolly recently joined his Somerville and Cambridge colleagues to pass S. 2138: An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare.

Also known as the PATCH Act, this legislation will require insurance carriers to ensure that confidential information is not shared with anyone other than the individual patient who receives services, even when multiple people are covered by the same insurance plan and the patient is not the primary subscriber.

For example, under the PATCH Act, a typical “Explanation of Benefits” form will only be issued to the individual member who receives care (instead of going to the primary subscriber).

The bill is intended to keep patient information private and to prevent situations where minors, young adults, victims of domestic abuse and others avoid treatment out of fear that someone else in their household might find out. By requiring insurance companies to provide the summary of payments form directly to individual patients, and to give those individuals the choice in how they receive the information, sensitive procedures and treatments are kept private and confidentiality is maintained.

Rep. Connolly would like to thank the members of the PATCH coalition for their advocacy, including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Healthcare for All, and others.

The bill now heads to conference committee, where the differences between the House and Senate versions will be worked out into a final bill.