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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Last Updated: 03/05/10

Appendix A

Summary of State Laws

This summary of state laws does not include full citations for statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment or insurance on the basis of genetic testing or genetic information. There are other comprehensive collections of state laws addressing genetic nondiscrimination in employment and insurance. Therefore, there are complete references only where the statute is relevant for the conduct of research using tissue specimens.


Confidentiality of Health Information

  • Physicians must maintain the confidentiality of patient records and patient communication. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 159.002]
  • The Privacy of Health Information Act requires that identifiable health information be kept private. The Privacy of Health Information Act does not apply to covered entities required to comply with HIPAA. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 602.002]

Conditions Imposed on Genetic Testing/Use of Genetic information

Texas regulates clinical genetic testing, requiring limits on collection, use and retention of samples. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 58.001]

A person who undergoes a genetic test has the right to know the results of the test. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 546.101]

Genetic information may not be used for insurance purposes or for employment purposes. Genetic information obtained by insurers or employers may not be released without specific authorization. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 546.102 and 58.102]

Permitted Releases of Health Information or Genetic Information for Research

Nonpublic personal health information may be disclosed without written authorization by covered entities to the extent the disclosure is necessary for actuarial, scientific, medical or public policy research. [Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 602.053]

Samples of genetic information must be destroyed unless (1) the individual authorizes retention of the sample or (2) if the use is for treatment or research. For samples obtained for research purposes, retention is permitted if the research has been “cleared” by an institutional review board, the sample is retained under the requirements that the institutional review board imposes on a specific research for a project, or as authorized by the research participant with institutional review board approval under federal law.

[Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 58.051]

Insurers may disclose genetic information for actuarial or research studies if a tested individual may not be identified in any actuarial or research report; and any materials that identify a tested individual are returned or destroyed as soon as reasonably practicable.

[Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 21.73]

Definition of Genetic Test/Genetic Information

“DNA” means deoxyribonucleic acid.

“Family health history” means a history taken by a physician or genetic professional to ascertain genetic or medical information about an individual’s family.

“Genetic characteristic” means a scientifically or medically identifiable genetic or chromosomal variation, composition, or alteration that: A. is scientifically or medically believed to: i. predispose an individual to a disease, disorder, or syndrome; or ii. be associated with a statistically significant increased risk of development of a disease, disorder, or syndrome; and B. may or may not be associated with any symptom of an ongoing disease, disorder, or syndrome affecting an individual on the date that genetic information is obtained regarding that individual.

“Genetic information” means information that is: A. obtained from or based on a scientific or medical determination of the presence or absence in an individual of a genetic characteristic; or B. derived from the results of a genetic test performed on, or a family health history obtained from, that individual.

“Genetic test” means a presymptomatic laboratory test of an individual’s genes, gene products, or chromosomes that analyzes the individual’s DNA, RNA, proteins, or chromosomes; and is performed to identify any genetic variation, compositions, or alterations that are associated with an individual’s having a statistically increased risk or developing a clinically recognized disease, disorder, or syndrome; or to be a carrier of such a disease, disorder, or syndrome. The term does not include a blood test, cholesterol test, urine test, or other physical test used for a purpose other than determining a genetic or chromosomal variation, composition, or alteration in a specific individual.

[Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated 546.001 and 58.001 and 21.401]