Giving state and federal privacy laws as the reason, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has been releasing only the number of senior care facilities that were reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and the total number of residents who have died.

The commission’s reasoning makes little sense. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — widely known as HIPAA — was designed to protect the privacy of individuals, not institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and wellbeing,” according to the agency’s website. “The Rule strikes a balance that permits important uses of information, while protecting the privacy of people who seek care and healing.”

In Texas, the reporting often has been hit or miss. Whereas the state refused to release the information on specific facilities, many health districts — and some senior care centers — released the information.

Information about the extent of infections in senior care facilities, not just in Texas but nationwide, should be widely and consistently available because families have a right to know the health risks at facilities where their elderly relatives live.

State Sen. Todd Hunter said he would file legislation allowing public access to information about disease transmission and mortality rates in health care facilities.

He said the information would not be patient specific, but it would be facility specific.

We think it is needed legislation to clear up what should happen on the state level.

On the national level, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency that regulates nursing homes, just recently began reporting the first nationwide snapshot of how each facility is coping with a disease that is particularly dangerous for elderly residents.

The lack of, or slow, reporting at the state and federal levels about the pandemic’s effect on individual senior care facilities hasn’t been fair to the residents or their families.

• Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com

Locations

Recommended for you

(5) comments

Ray Taft

“The lack of, or slow, reporting at the state and federal levels about the pandemic’s effect on individual senior care facilities hasn’t been fair to the residents or their families.” Really!

What really hasn’t been fair to the residents and their families is the Democrat-run city governments putting China virus patients in nursing homes.

That’s the real crime the Democrat-leaning media doesn’t want to report. So they deflect blame to anyone but the Democrats, who are the ones responsible for the total disregard of elderly patients.

Terri Abraham

I saw the headline, and thought the paper was finally going to write about the cover up going on in the county over the number of Covid patients in our local hospitals. Sadly, no, although you do understand HIPPA, so can't be using that as the reason to mislead the public.

When I first tried to find out how many patients were in our hospitals, and I am including TDC, since it takes doctors, nurses, ventilators, medications, etc., I was just curious. I'd been told by former coworkers about how sick the patients were, and death rates that were very different than what's in the paper.

As time has gone on and no one will release the number, I became more curious. I called UTMB and was told they weren't allowed to release the number. The person in the phone said they weren't told why they couldn't, but that the order came from the very top.

Why? What is the reason to cover up the truth from the local population?

I would be thrilled if someone who knows would answer.

Craig Mason

Terri I have wondered the same thing. Just doesn’t seem to be much transparency in Galveston County. Now Ray above blames it all on democrats, but Galveston County is led by republicans. Not sure Who is to blame I would just like to know the true numbers of hospitalizations.

Ted Gillis

Use your scroll wheel when you see comments from Ray.

Carlos Ponce

What's the mater, Ted, can't tolerate an opinion that differs from your own? That's fascist.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.