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Conaway & Benson Bill Requiring Embryo Storage Facilities to Use HIPAA-Compliant Programs to Record, Report Patient Data Passes Committee

To ensure the same standards of record-keeping are applied to embryo storage facilities as other health care providers, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Daniel Benson would require these facilities to record and report patient health information in a manner consistent with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The measure was advanced by the Assembly Health Committee on Thursday.

Women and couples can choose to freeze their embryos if they want to preserve their ability to become a parent but anticipate future challenges, such as infertility due to medical treatments or aging and the potential injury/death of a partner. This option is also often utilized when extra embryos are created as a result of fertility treatments.

In 2019, New Jersey became one of the first states to regulate embryo storage facilities. This measure (A-2021) builds on those regulations by mandating any embryo storage facility required to record and report patients’ health information must use a program compliant with HIPAA. They must also comply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ requirements regarding function, capability and security features of such a program.

Upon the bill advancing, Assemblymen Conaway (D-Burlington) and Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) issued the following joint statement:

“Cryogenic embryo storage gives many residents the opportunity to start or grow their family someday. This option is particularly invaluable for anyone who may encounter health obstacles such as infertility in the future. Embryo storage facilities must treat their patients’ health information with the same care and consideration as every other healthcare provider. Utilizing a data storage program that records and reports crucial information in a secure, efficient manner would help prevent tragic mistakes – such as the misplacement or mislabeling of a patient’s embryo.”