Five HIPAA Compliance Activities Your Organization Must Undertake

HIPAA Administrative Simplification was enacted on August 21, 1996 as Subtitle F of Title II of Public Law 104-191. The so-called HITECH Act “Omnibus” regulation that modifies HIPAA privacy and security provisions will be published in the Federal Register by the end of this summer, according to the head of HHS’ National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Farzad Mostashari, M.D. Based on the timeline in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making, compliance by all covered entities and their business associates would be required 240 days after publication, most likely sometime in May 2013, assuming the end-of-summer deadline is met.  All covered entities and their business associates will be required to comply with provisions of…

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OCR’s Publicly Disclosed Large Breaches Now Top 20 Million Impacted Individuals

May 16, 2012.  The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) HIPAA/HITECH Act privacy and security enforcement arm, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), is responsible under the HITECH Act to publicly disclose privacy and security breaches that affect 500 or more individuals on its Breach Notification Web site.  With the now reported Utah Department of Health hacking/IT incident breach occurring in the period March 10-April 2, 2012 and affecting a reported 780,000 individuals, the total number in 435 breaches reported since September 22, 2009, now totals 20,079,189 impacted individuals.  Of the total number of breaches where location of breached information is known (e.g., electronic or hard copy source), 72% of…

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OCR Penalizes Physician Practice for HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule Violations

April 18, 2012.  Late last week, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) executed a Resolution Agreement and included Corrective Action Plan (Appendix A) as a settlement for violations of HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules by a physician practice, Phoenix Cardiac Surgery, P.C., of Phoenix and Prescott, AZ. In its April 17, 2012, News Release, HHS stated: “The incident giving rise to OCR’s investigation was a report that the physician practice was posting clinical and surgical appointments for its patients on an Internet-based calendar that was publicly accessible. On further investigation, OCR found that Phoenix Cardiac Surgery had implemented few policies and…

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BCBST Pays $1.5 Million to HHS to Settle Potential HIPAA Privacy and Security Violations

On March 13, 2012, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST) agreed to a payment of $1.5 million to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and to a corrective action plan as part of a Resolution Agreement with HHS for potential violation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rule violations.  According to a HHS Press Release of the same date, “the enforcement action [by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR)] is the first resulting from a breach report required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act Breach Notification Rule.” According to the HHS Press Release: “The investigation followed…

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HITECH Act Privacy and Security Final Rules Needed Now

Since September 23, 2009, the enforcement arm of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has been required to publicly disclose breaches involving 500 or more individuals discovered and reported by covered entities and their business associates. As of October 25, 2011, OCR has reported 345 such breaches involving a total of 11,959,488 individuals.  Not reflected yet in the OCR disclosed breaches are two involving 6.5 million individuals:  a Nemours breach of 1.6 million individuals and a TRICARE breach involving 4.9 million individuals.  Together, these two recently reported breaches represent 54.4% of the total number of individuals affected by the publicly disclosed breaches…

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Get Ready Now for Toughened HIPAA/HITECH Act Privacy and Security Rules and Enforcement, and Big Noncompliance Fines

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted on August 21, 1996, as Public Law 104-191.   HIPAA Administrative Simplification provisions in Subtitle F, Title II included transactions and code sets, privacy, security, and unique identifiers.  Except for several identifiers, the federal government promulgated enabling regulations under the Administrative Procedure Act.  For example, the Privacy Rule required compliance by healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plans—Covered Entities—by April 14, 2003, and the Security Rule required compliance by April 20, 2005, with small health plans for each rule having an additional year in which to comply. On February 17, 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and…

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