Oregon House votes to protect online consumer privacy

Also backs bil to stop surprise medical bills

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ensure that the privacy of consumers online is protected and enforceable.

House Bill 2090 makes it an unlawful trade practice, enforceable by the Attorney General, if a company or a person uses, discloses, collects, maintains, deletes or disposes of consumer information in a way that’s not in accordance with the company’s stated privacy policy. In short, the bill says that online companies have to actually abide by their own rules.

The bill was co-chief sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) and Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles).

“More and more Oregonians pass personal information to businesses and individuals online and, in many cases, the only assurance they have that their information is going to be properly used and disposed of is a privacy policy,” Rep. Williamson said. “House Bill 2090 ensures that those privacy policies are more than just words written on a website – this bill holds individuals and businesses accountable for upholding the commitments they have made to the people they are engaging with online.”

Rep. Huffman said it is important for Oregonians to know that their information is being protected.

“We are committed to ensuring the privacy and personal information of Oregonians is protected,” Rep. Huffman said. “When it is not, Oregonians deserve to have recourse to hold those who broke their commitments accountable. House Bill 2090 provides just that.”

The bill, which passed the House 55-3, now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.

Unexpected medical bills can send families spinning into financial turmoil, and it can take years to recover. The Oregon House voted Tuesday to protect many of those families by passing House Bill 2339, which ends the practice of patients receiving surprise “balance billing” after a procedure.

Balance billing occurs when an insured patient receives medical care through their network but, unbeknownst to the patient, a portion of the care is out of network. The patient then receives a bill—sometimes in the thousands of dollars—for a service they believed was covered by their insurance. A common example is when an out-of-network anesthesiologist or radiologist is used in an otherwise covered procedure. The result can be crippling medical debt.

HB 2339, carried on the floor by Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), passed 36-22.

“Imagine owing thousands of dollars after getting a medical procedure that you had every expectation was covered by your insurance,” says Rep. Nosse. “We know that most families in Oregon are not prepared to absorb those unexpected costs, and many are already living on the edge due to high costs of things like housing. How many families are just one surprise medical bill away from homelessness?”

House Bill 2339 would protect patients by requiring that the insurer and health care service contractor, not the patient, reimburse out-of-network service providers at 175% of the Medicare price. That means that providers are still getting paid a fair rate for the services they provide.

“HB 2339 will help protect consumers who did everything right but were saddled with outrageous costs through no fault of their own,” adds Rep. Nosse. “If you play by the rules, you deserve a fair price, and this bill ensures that for Oregonians.”

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