Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

April 25, 2024
Contact: Joe O’Leary | | 508-479-4969
April 25, 2024


[Hartford, CT] – In response to growing concerns over the protection of sensitive health information, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) and State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Bridgeport, Fairfield) joined representatives from a large coalition of state health care provider associations including the Connecticut Hospital Association, the Connecticut Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, physician and nursing groups, mental health providers, nursing homes and other clinicians at the state Capitol today, all calling for legislation to strengthen data protections in Connecticut and improve our own state health information exchange.

For more than two weeks in August 2023, Manchester Memorial Hospital was targeted by a cyberattack that forced emergency services to divert people to hospitals as far away as Massachusetts. Two other hospitals were also affected by the attack, impacting care and impeding access. Then, in February, Change Healthcare, the nation’s largest clearinghouse for medical payments, was the target of a sophisticated cybercrime that prevented healthcare authorizations, eligibility determinations and payments.

Connecticut is not alone in the battle against cyberattacks. Last September, the Justice Department revealed that nationwide, 400 cyberattacks on healthcare companies in 2023 affected 61 million people and their personal health data.

Senate Bill 1, currently under consideration by legislators, includes provisions for hospitals and nursing facilities to submit plans and processes to respond to cybersecurity disruption to an auditor to determine adequacy of such plans and processes. They will also be tasked with reporting to the Departments of Public Health, Administrative Services and Emergency Services and Public Protection regarding whether those plans are adequate and steps being taken to implement recommended improvements. The bill additionally seeks to create a working group studying health information exchanges.

“Cybersecurity failures compromise patient safety, provider security and lead to a lower overall quality of care,” said Senator Anwar, who is a practicing physician and co-chair of the Public Health Committee. “We need to have protections and standards in place to ensure the interruptions that paralyzed care in the past don’t occur again. Provisions in Senate Bill 1 are designed to proactively address this issue and work with stakeholders in a coordinated manner to protect health information data in our state.”

“The interconnectivity of health information offers valuable insight and data that can allow us to provide more efficient health care to our patients. It is crucial; however, to navigate the current landscape with caution, safeguarding both patients and their health information and their health care providers, from potential risks and breaches,” said Amanda Gunthel, MD, President of the CT Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers. Gunthel also called for attention to our state’s Health Information Exchange, Connie, stating “Creating a working group with key stakeholders in SB 1, including members of our coalition, will create a path forward where we can work together to find solutions that will afford patients and providers alike the protections necessary to see the benefits of a well thought out, safe and effective health information exchange.”

“It is critical that we work together to ensure the protection of patient data and the physicians and clinicians responsible for the privacy and confidentiality of their patients,” Anthony Yoder, MD of the CT Chapter, American College of Physicians added. ”We applaud the call for a stakeholder workgroup to  work collaboratively on improving our state’s health information exchange.”

Dante Brittis, MD, President of the Connecticut Orthopaedic Society added, “On behalf of our 250 orthopaedic surgeon members, we extend our appreciation to Senator Saud Anwar for his leadership in recognizing the serious impact cyberattacks have on the healthcare system, our practices, and our patients and championing the urgent need for action.”

The broad coalition of providers includes CAHCF/CCAL • CALA • Connecticut Academy of PAs (ConnAPA) • Connecticut APRN Society • Connecticut Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers • Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home • Connecticut Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CTAMFT) • Connecticut Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (CTANA) • Connecticut Association of Optometrists • Connecticut Chapter, American College of Physicians • Connecticut Chiropractic Association • Connecticut Chiropractic Council (CCC) • Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians • Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges • Connecticut Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry • Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA) • Connecticut Hospital Association • Connecticut Nurses Association • Connecticut Orthopaedic Society • Connecticut Physical Therapy Association • Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association • Connecticut Psychiatric Society • Connecticut Psychological Association • Connecticut State Dental Association • Connecticut State Society of Anesthesiologists • Hezekiah Beardsley Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics • LeadingAge Connecticut • National Association of Social Workers/CT • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

Caption: Sen. Anwar speaks in the Legislative Office Building Thursday.

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