Tag Archives: OCR

HIPAA Audits Maybe, But Audit Preparedness Definitely!

According to a Bloomberg article, the second phase of HIPAA audits by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), originally set to commence in 2014, may be coming soon. This update came at a HIPAA conference co-hosted by OCR during which OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels said the agency was in the process of confirming contact information of … Continue Reading

Cancer Care Group to Pay $750,000 to Settle HIPAA Breach, as KPMG Finds 81 Percent of Hospitals and Health Insurance Companies had a Breach in the Past Two Years

On September 2, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reported that it agreed to settle potential violations of the HIPAA privacy and security regulations with Cancer Care Group, Inc. The dollar amount of the settlement, $750,000, is significant, and the agreement to adopt a robust, multi-year corrective action plan under the watchful eye of the … Continue Reading

OCR Issues Ebola Guidance on HIPAA Privacy

According to the New York Times, Bellevue Hospital Center patient Craig Spencer, the first New Yorker to be infected with Ebola, is scheduled to be released today. And while the intense reporting about Ebola has subsided, perhaps indicating a lowering of the perceived threat of Ebola spreading further in the U.S. (although many continue to … Continue Reading

HIPAA Privacy Rule Also Affected By Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision in U.S. v. Windsor

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor, it declared section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. For many companies, the decision meant changes to certain of their employee benefit plans, as well as the tax treatment of employee contributions for same sex spouses. However, declaring section 3 of … Continue Reading

HIPAA Reminders – Business Associate Agreement Deadline and Continuation of OCR Audits

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a great group at the Connecticut Assisted Living Association (CALA) about HIPAA and a range of related practical issues. Many covered entities and business associates, particularly those that are small businesses, continue to work on understanding the privacy and security standards, and how to best apply them in their … Continue Reading

Prepare For Increased HIPAA Fines

Since mid-2013, the Department of Health and Human Services has recovered more than $10 million from numerous entities in connection with alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).  However, during a recent American Bar Association conference, Jerome B. Meites, a chief regional civil rights counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) … Continue Reading

OCR Provides HIPAA “Lessons Learned” In Data Breach Report to Congress

An Office for Civil Rights (OCR) report issued this month reveals some interesting details about data breach activity under HIPAA, as well as some helpful reminders and recommendations for covered entities and business associates. Section 13402(i) of the HITECH Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report to various Senate … Continue Reading

Cities And Counties Are Not Immune From HIPAA Enforcement, Skagit County, WA Pays $215,000

Skagit County, Washington, has agreed to settle potential violations of the privacy and security rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), according to an announcement by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on Friday.  OCR reported that Skagit County, home to approximately 118,000 residents, agreed to a $215,000 monetary settlement and to comply … Continue Reading

HHS to Conduct Survey About Which HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates Should Be Audited

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on February 24 that it is seeking information about conducting a pre-audit survey. That is, it plans to conduct a “survey of up to 1200 [HIPAA] covered entities (health plans, health care clearinghouses, and certain health care providers) and business associates (entities that provider certain services to … Continue Reading

Puerto Rico Gets Serious About HIPAA – $6.8 million in penalties connected to data breach

Ricardo Rivera Cardona of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration, intending to send a message by imposing the largest penalty to date ($6.8 million) arising out of a breach of protected health information under HIPAA, as reported by Infomation Security Media Group, is quoted as saying: We are sending a message that we are here to … Continue Reading

OCR Responds To Critical OIG Report About the Extent of OCR’s HIPAA Enforcement

A report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) concludes that the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) did not meet all of its federal requirements for oversight and enforcement of the HIPAA Security Rule. While the report noted OCR met some of these requirements, it also found that: … Continue Reading

Health Care Providers May Disclose PHI to Avert Threats to Health and Safety, HHS Letter Confirms

Following the mass shootings in Newtown, CT, and Aurora, CO, Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez issued a letter on January 15, 2013, reminding covered health care providers about disclosures of protected health information that may be made to avert threats to health and safety. The letter points out, for example, that mental health professionals … Continue Reading

Start 2013 On The Right Foot – Assess Your Organization’s Information Risk

The $50,000 in penalties that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently imposed on a health care provider in Idaho was due in part to allegations that the HIPAA covered entity had not conducted a risk assessment as required under the HIPAA privacy and security regulations. Of course, HIPAA is not the only law that requires a risk assessment. … Continue Reading

OCR Releases Guidance on “De-Identification” of PHI under HIPAA

On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights released guidance regarding methods for de-identification of protected health information (PHI) in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule and as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HIPAA covered entities and business associates recognize the increasing risks related to handling "protected health information." One way to reduce these risks … Continue Reading

OCR Issues Protocol For HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Audit Program

As we previously discussed, the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) continues to push forward with the HIPAA audits required by the HITECH Act.  To this end, the OCR recently posted the protocol which is used to conduct the HIPAA audits on its website.  The HITECH Act requires HHS to provide for periodic audits to ensure covered … Continue Reading

OCR Announces HIPAA Audit Program

Today, the Office for Civil Rights formally announced its HIPAA audit plan, with audits commencing in November 2011. A new page on OCR's website answers some helpful questions for covered entities and business associates, which are summarized in this report.… Continue Reading