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Privacy policy alters makeup of senior services board

By Sara Seidel/Staff Writer

The Ray County Senior Services Board includes three new members because some former members disagreed with a new policy requiring board members to be trained in and sign documents regarding health care privacy.

The Ray County Commission recently opted to require senior services board members to undergo training to familiarize themselves with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations and to sign agreements saying they will follow the terms of that act.

Under the act, any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form must abide by privacy rules to ensure that information remains confidential.

Because the senior services board does not provide health care, and because the board members manage funds and do not themselves provide services, three board members stepped down.

“My interpretation did not agree with theirs,” seven-year board member Jane Bartlett said of the commission’s reading of the act’s requirements.

The commission appoints members to the board and gave members an option to sign the privacy documents or resign.

Eastern District Commissioner Allen Dale said the signatures would protect the board members and Ray County as well.

“They’re working with senior citizens, and we felt it was needed,” Dale said. “It was kind of a course change in the way we do business.”

The senior services board provides programs to improve health, nutrition and quality of life for people age 60 and older. For eligible Ray Countians, senior services staff members might prepare meals, offer light housekeeping duties or bathe clients as needed.

Those services exclude health care, said Barbara Lanning, one of the board members who stepped down.

“It’s things that people aren’t able to do on their own,” Lanning said.

Providing in-home care is different from providing health care, Lanning and Bartlett both said.

“It just came to an impasse,” Lanning said.

The complete story is in the Monday, Aug. 3, 2015 Richmond News.

Click here for our E-edition and read the rest of the story.

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