Governor signs Graham bill to protect privacy of those seeking help for PTSD

'We are sending a message that Washington state takes the mental health issues of our first responders seriously, and we take their private information seriously,' says Graham

Legislation to protect the privacy records of workers filing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other industrial insurance claims from unnecessary exposure was signed into law this week by the governor.

House Bill 1909 passed the House of Representatives unanimously at the beginning of March and won unanimous approval by the Senate earlier in April.

Rep. Jenny Graham, R-Spokane and prime sponsor of the bill, said she was happy to see this protection put into place for those seeking help for PTSD issues.

“Our country and our communities have come a long way in understanding, treating and responding to PTSD,” said Graham. “While the stigma of PTSD continues to fade we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect the privacy of those seeking assistance in dealing with their affliction. While speaking to local firefighters and other first responders it became clear that privacy was an issue – an obstacle – for some, preventing them from seeking the assistance they needed.”

Graham's bill allows employers or duly authorized representatives to review industrial insurance claims. However, it establishes a civil penalty of $1,000 for each occurrence if they reveal information regarding a mental health condition or treatment to any person other than an authorized representative.

“The governor's signature on this bill caps the end of a long, bipartisan effort,” said Graham. “I'm grateful for the support of legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both legislative bodies. We are sending a message that Washington state takes the mental health issues of our first responders seriously, and we take their private information seriously.”

House Bill 1909 is Graham's first bill passed into law.

The 105-day 2019 legislative session is scheduled to end April 28.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov