NU Online News Service, June 28, 3:15 p.m. – The Texas Department of Insurance says it will give insurers at least 60 days to act on the new financial privacy regulations it is preparing.

Texas and other states are rushing to develop financial privacy regulations to comply with the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act.

The Texas Legislature recently enacted a financial privacy bill, S.B. 712, that requires the Texas insurance commissioner to develop privacy rules based on a model regulation developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., within 30 days after June 14.

The Texas department will comply by adopting emergency rules no later than July 13, according to a bulletin issued by Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor.

Affected companies will have to begin coming up with the procedures needed to comply with the emergency rules as soon as the rules appear, but the department expects to give affected insurers, health maintenance organizations and insurance agencies at least 60 days to send out privacy notices, Montemayor says.

Regulators will post the emergency rules on the Texas department Web site, at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us

Around the same time, the department will also publish proposed financial privacy rules for public comment, Montemayor says.

The Texas Legislature also enacted a health privacy bill, S.B. 11. The health privacy bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2002, requires the insurance commissioner to adopt personal health information privacy rules based on the NAIC health privacy model regulation. The rules also must be consistent with privacy regulations developed to implement the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Montemayor says.

The federal health privacy regulations took effect April 13, but the federal government says it will not begin enforcing the regulations until April 13, 2003.

If the federal HIPAA privacy regulations change, the Texas department will build the changes into its own health privacy rules, Montemayor says.