On April 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Proposed Rule) that seeks to enhance safeguards of reproductive health care information through changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. The proposal is intended to align with President Biden’s Executive Order
Privacy and Security
OCR Reminder: Pandemic-Era HIPAA Flexibilities Will End May 11, 2023
On April 11, 2023 – one month in advance of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023 – the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) confirmed that various Notifications of Enforcement Discretion issued under HIPAA during the PHE will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023.…
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Annual Breach Notification Deadline to OCR Looming
HIPAA requires that covered entities notify the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of any breaches of unsecured protected health information that affects less than 500 individuals in a calendar year within 60 days following the end of the calendar year.
Therefore, all breaches that affected less than 500 individuals that occurred in 2022 and have…
HHS Proposes Rule to Align Part 2 Records and HIPAA
On November 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule to modify the confidentiality protections of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) patient treatment records under 42 CFR Part 2 (Part 2) to implement statutory amendments passed under Section 3221 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (42 U.S.C. 290dd-2). Comments are being accepted for 60 days from the date of publication.…
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Privacy Tip – Health Care Sector Continues to Be Hit with Ransomware
According to the 2022 State of Ransomware Report issued recently by Sophos, it surveyed 5,600 IT professionals from 31 countries, including professionals in the health care sector. Those professionals in the health care sector shared that 66 percent of them had experienced a ransomware attack in 2021, which was an increase of 69 percent over 2020. This was the largest increase of all sectors surveyed.…
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HHS Issues HIPAA Guidance to Support Audio-Only Telehealth Services
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued new guidance (Guidance) on the use of remote communication technologies to deliver audio-only telehealth in accordance with HIPAA. Per OCR, the Guidance is intended to ensure continued access for patients to audio-only telehealth in a secure and compliant manner, particularly once OCR’s notification of enforcement discretion (previously discussed here) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded (i.e., once the HHS-declared COVID-19 public health emergency is ended).…
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Connecticut’s Privacy Law Signed by Governor
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring Act (CPDPA) into law on May 10, 2022, making Connecticut the most recent state to pass its own privacy law in the absence of comprehensive federal privacy legislation. Connecticut follows in the steps of Nevada, California, Virginia, Colorado and Utah in enacting its own comprehensive privacy legislation, with more pending in various state legislatures.…
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ONC Information Blocking Data Show Majority of Claims Against Health Care Providers
On February 28, 2022, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued data on information blocking claims received since April 5, 2021, the effective date of information blocking regulations enacted under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). As a reminder, in accordance with the Cures Act’s prohibition on certain information blocking practices, in 2020 ONC issued a pair of rules (available here and here) to implement information blocking regulations (now found at 45 CFR Part 171). Due to COVID-related delays, ONC ultimately set a compliance date for such regulations of April 5, 2021. ONC is now sharing preliminary data on the information blocking claims received for the first time.
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No Private Right of Action under HIPAA, but State Law Claims May Still be Asserted
A federal district court in Montana has confirmed that HIPAA precludes a private right of action for patients to claim an unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of protected health information. Nonetheless, the court denied the defendant covered entity’s motion to dismiss the complaint, holding that the plaintiff could move forward with state-specific claims of invasion of privacy, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and violation of Montana’s Consumer Protection Act because the federal law does not bar the suit under state law. The court held that, although HIPAA does not allow private lawsuits to be brought for unauthorized disclosure of health information, it does not preempt state law remedies that offer stronger protections than HIPAA.
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OCR Announces 20th Settlement Under Right of Access Initiative
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced that it has entered into the 20th settlement under its Right of Access Initiative. The settlement with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Nebraska includes an $80,000 payment by the hospital for failing to provide a mother with timely access to her daughter’s medical records.