House Energy and Commerce Unanimously OKs Bill That Would Amend HIPAA Privacy Rule

By Jeannie Baumann

May 21 — The House Energy and Commerce Committee May 21 unanimously approved the 21st Century Cures bill (H.R. 6) that would make changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule.

The provision is part of a sweeping legislative package designed to speed new medical treatments to patients that was approved during the committee markup.

The timing of the committee markup falls in line with the scheduling goals of House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who led the 21st Century Cures initiative with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). Upton wants a floor vote by June, with enactment by the end of the year.

The bill would authorize the Health and Human Services Department to revise or clarify HIPAA Privacy Rule coverage of protected health information in the context of health research.

The proposal would also ease consent requirements to allow researchers to more easily use protected health information.

The latest version of the bill includes a manager's amendment that was approved by the committee in a voice vote. The amendment involved additional funding for the FDA that would carry out new programs and requirements under the 21st Century Cures bill.

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H.R. 6, as considered by the committee during the markup session, is available at

The amendments to H.R. 6 approved in the committee markup are at

Further information on the markup session, including links to amendments and an archived webcast, is available at