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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A reporter made a public information request to the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation asking for statistical information regarding allegations of abuse and subsequent investigations of abuse in state facilities and for the names of the facilities in which the alleged incidents occurred. The department believed that the information could not be released because it was protected health information prohibited from disclosure by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and asked the attorney general to provide an opinion as to whether the information could be released. See Pub. L. 104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (HIPAA codified in various sections of 8, 22, 26, 29 and 42 U.S.C.A.). The attorney general concluded that the information was subject to disclosure by the Public Information Act, which requires the disclosure of public information in response to public requests. The department contested the attorney general’s opinion and filed suit in district court. The district court concluded the information was confidential and not subject to disclosure. The attorney general appeals the decision of the district court. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. Although the information at issue in this case does not seem to be the type of information that would constitute “protected health information,” neither party sufficiently addresses this point in their briefs, the court states. For the purposes of this case, the court assumes that the information is protected health information. The Public Information Act is a statute requiring the disclosure of protected health information as described in �164.512(a) of the Privacy Rule (the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information under HIPAA). Covered entities faced with a request for disclosure involving potentially protected health information must examine the information in light of HIPAA and the Privacy Rule to determine if the information is protected health information that is generally not subject to disclosure. 42 U.S.C.A. �1320d(6); 45 C.F.R. �160.103. If the request does not involve protected health information, then HIPAA and the Privacy Rule do not prohibit disclosure of the information. If the request asks for information that is protected health information, then the agency must ascertain if any exception to non-disclosure in the Privacy Rule applies. If no exception applies, the agency may release the information if potential identifiers are redacted or if a statistician determines that release of the information cannot be used to identify any individual. 45 C.F.R. �164.514. If an exception to non-disclosure does apply, the agency must release the information. For example, if the request is made under the authority of a statute that requires disclosure, then the exception found in �164.512(a) applies, and the agency must disclose the information as long as the disclosure complies with all relevant requirements of the statute compelling disclosure. The information requested in this case was subject to disclosure. Section 164.512(a) of the Privacy Rule permits disclosure of protected health information if required by law, as long as the disclosure comports with the requirements of that law. 45 C.F.R. �164.512(a). The Public Information Act requires disclosure of public information unless an exception applies. No exception to disclosure in the Public Information Act applies to the release of statistical information regarding abuse at individual government facilities. The confidentiality exception listed in �552.101 does not apply because no law renders the information confidential, and the department has not referred to any case holding that aggregate statistical information of the type requested in this case is confidential. disclosure of the information requested will comply with all relevant requirements of the Public Information Act, HIPAA, and the Privacy Rule. Because the department can comply with both the Privacy Rule and with the Public Information Act, the Public Information Act is not pre-empted by the Privacy Rule. OPINION:David Puryear, J.; Law, C.J., Patterson and Puryear, JJ.

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