HIPAA Overhaul Coming?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a request for information about stakeholders’ views on regulations implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, popularly known as HIPAA, leading to conjecture that the administration may be planning to revise the federal government’s application of the federal health care privacy law enacted in 1996.

According to an HHS news release,

“This RFI is another crucial step in our Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, which is taking a close look at how regulations like HIPAA can be fine-tuned to incentivize care coordination and improve patient care, while ensuring that we fulfill HIPAA’s promise to protect privacy and security,” said Deputy Secretary Hargan. “In addressing the opioid crisis, we’ve heard stories about how the Privacy Rule can get in the way of patients and families getting the help they need. We’ve also heard how the Rule may impede other forms of care coordination that can drive value. I look forward to hearing from the public on potential improvements to HIPAA, while maintaining the important safeguards for patients’ health information.”

“We are looking for candid feedback about how the existing HIPAA regulations are working in the real world and how we can improve them,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “We are committed to pursuing the changes needed to improve quality of care and eliminate undue burdens on covered entities while maintaining robust privacy and security protections for individuals’ health information.”

The RFI also seeks feedback about how current HIPAA requirements affect specific aspects of the delivery of health care, including:

  • encouraging information-sharing for treatment and care coordination
  • facilitating parental involvement in care
  • addressing the opioid crisis and serious mental illness
  • accounting for disclosures of protected health information for treatment, payment, and health care operations as required by the HITECH Act
  • changing the current requirement for certain providers to make a good faith effort to obtain an acknowledgment of receipt of the notice of privacy practices

Learn more about HIPAA and the administration’s interest in revising it in this news release from the Department of Health and Human Services or go here to see the RFI itself.

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