May 9, 2017
The Honorable Eric Brakey, Senate Chair
The Honorable Patricia Hymanson, M.D., House Chair
Joint Standing Committee on Health & Human Services
Room 209, Cross State Office Building
Augusta, Maine 04330
RE: L.D. 1545, AN ACT REGARDING DISCLOSURE OF HEALTH CARE INFORMATION OF A DECEASED PERSON
Dear Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health & Human Services:
I am writing with information about this bill because I have obligations in other committees this afternoon and am not sure I can attend the public hearing. I am sorry that I will not hear Senator Libby’s testimony about the perceived need for the bill. Please consider this letter as “neither for nor against” the bill.
I do not believe the bill is necessary because interpretive guidance from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services about the application of the HIPAA Privacy Rule to the “protected health information” (PHI) of deceased individuals permits disclosure to a family member or other individual who was involved in the decedent’s care “unless doing so is inconsistent with any prior expressed preference of the deceased individual that is known [to a health care practitioner or facility].” I have enclosed this guidance for your review. This should cover the vast majority of situations involving the PHI of decedents. If this guidance does not apply in a situation, then the family or health care entity could seek authorization from the Personal Representative of the estate, if any, or the Probate Court.
Thank you for considering the views of the Maine Medical Association on L.D. 1545.
Andrew B. MacLean
cc: Senator Nathan Libby