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Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report

Tag Archives: OCR

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

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

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

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 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.

HIPAA Audits to Begin Early 2012

Approximately 150 HIPAA on-site audits are scheduled to begin in early 2012. Covered entities and business associates should be aware of the nature and scope of these audits and what they should be doing to be prepare should they be selected.

HHS to Help Train State Attorneys General to Enforce HIPAA

While years of lax enforcement may have lulled many HIPAA covered entities and business associates to not take HIPAA seriously, recent activities by HHS, including the recently announced nationwide enforcement training program for State Attorneys General should spur renewed efforts toward compliance.

HHS Posts On Its Website Covered Entities Reporting HIPAA Data Breaches

On February 22, 2010, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) posted on its website its first list of covered entities that have reported breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting more than 500 individuals. OCR acknowledged the HITECH Act requires HHS to make this information public by posting it on an HHS website. The breach notification rule became effective on… Continue Reading