DHHS Modifies HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement and HITECH Breach Notification Rules

On January 25, 2013, The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a final rule combining four previously proposed or interim rules related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and HITECH Act published between 2008 and 2010.

Effective date: The final rule is effective on March 26, 2013.  Compliance date: Covered entities and business associates must comply with the applicable requirements of this final rule by September 23, 2013.

Changes in the Final Rule, as summarized below, will require home care providers to modify and update their Notice of Privacy Practices (NOPP).  We encourage all customers to work with their legal counsel to evaluate the final rule and make necessary changes in their NOPP in order to meet the compliance date of September 23, 2013.  Once updates have been made to agency/company specific NOPP, please provide a copy to MedForms with your next reorder and we will incorporate the revised copy into your book.

MedForms recently updated its generic Notice of Privacy Practices used by many of our clients and is offering it with reorders free of charge.

Summary of Major Provisions:

The omnibus final rule is comprised of the following four final rules:

1.   Final modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, and certain other modifications to improve the Rules, which were issued as a proposed rule on July 14, 2010. These modifications:

  • Make business associates of covered entities directly liable for compliance with certain of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules’ requirements.
  • Strengthen the limitations on the use and disclosure of protected health information for marketing and fundraising purposes, and prohibit the sale of protected health information without individual authorization.
  • Expand individuals’ rights to receive electronic copies of their health information and to restrict disclosures to a health plan concerning treatment for which the individual has paid out of pocket in full.
  • Require modifications to, and redistribution of, a covered entity’s notice of privacy practices.
  • Modify the individual authorization and other requirements to facilitate research and disclosure of child immunization proof to schools, and to enable access to decedent information by family members or others.
  • Adopt the additional HITECH Act enhancements to the Enforcement Rule not previously adopted in the October 30, 2009, interim final rule (referenced immediately below), such as the provisions addressing enforcement of noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules due to willful neglect.

2.   Final rule adopting changes to the HIPAA Enforcement Rule to incorporate the increased and tiered civil money penalty structure provided by the HITECH Act, originally published as an interim final rule on October 30, 2009.

3.   Final rule on Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information under the HITECH Act, which replaces the breach notification rule’s “harm” threshold with a more objective standard and supplants an interim final rule published on August 24, 2009.

4.   Final rule modifying the HIPAA Privacy Rule as required by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) to prohibit most health plans from using or disclosing genetic information for underwriting purposes, which was published as a proposed rule on October 7, 2009. NOTE: This provision is not applicable to the home care industry.

Link to Final Rule: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-25/pdf/2013-01073.pdf

Cathy Green, RN
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs • MedForms®, Inc.



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