Tag Archives: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Beware, Persons Posing as OCR Investigators Demand PHI, Says OCR Alert

On April 3, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an alert to covered entities and business associates. Evidently, one or more individuals are posing as OCR Investigators and contacting HIPAA covered entities and business associates in an attempt to obtain protected health information (PHI).  The individual identifies on the telephone as an OCR investigator, … Continue Reading

More OCR Guidance on COVID-19 and HIPAA Relief – Business Associates

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been moving swiftly to provide guidance on addressing key regulatory issues to aid in the fight to contain and defeat COVID-19. Some of the latest developments include exercising its enforcement discretion on certain good faith disclosures of protected health information (PHI) by business associates, adding FAQs for telehealth … Continue Reading

OCR HIPAA Guidance For Getting PHI of COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to First Responders

With first responders on the front lines of helping to fight the coronavirus, sharing information about potential exposure to COVID-19 is critical to protecting them and preventing further spread. In these situations, the information shared is most often “protected health information” (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. … Continue Reading

HHS Removes Enforcement Barriers for Telehealth during COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to make it easier for individuals to reach a healthcare provider, including those most at risk (older persons and persons with disabilities). Effective immediately, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, OCR announced it will not enforce noncompliance with … Continue Reading

HIPAA Privacy Rule Waiver, Other Medical Information Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus spreads across the globe and in the United States, providers, businesses, employers, and others are struggling to understand what medical information they can collect and what information they can share. These are difficult questions the answers to which involve considering factors such as long-standing compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA, ADA, GINA, state law), … Continue Reading

New York SHIELD Act FAQs

Over the past few months, businesses across the country have been focused on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which dramatically expands privacy rights for California residents and provides a strong incentive for businesses to implement reasonable safeguards to protect personal information. That focus is turning back east as the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic … Continue Reading

Health Plan Sponsors – Have You Updated Your Vendor Agreements for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Confidentiality Regulations?

Employers that sponsor group health plans (medical, dental, vision, HFSA) are used to negotiating detailed administrative services agreements with vendors that provide services to those plans. Many also are familiar with “business associate agreements” required under HIPAA that must be in place with certain vendors, such as third-party claims administrators (TPAs), wellness program vendors, benefits … Continue Reading

Coronavirus Raises Privacy Concerns for Healthcare Providers and their Workers

The outbreak of a new coronavirus that is believed to have began in central Chinese city of Wuhan and now appears to be spreading to the United States is driving concerns for organizations around preparedness regarding their operations, their customers, and their employees. Both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State … Continue Reading

Websites: A Growing Compliance Concern – CCPA, HIPAA, Accessibility, State Laws…

Websites play a vital role for organizations. They facilitate communication with consumers, constituents, patients, employees, and the general public. They project an organization’s image and promote goodwill, provide information about products and services and allow for their purchase. Websites also inform investors about performance, enable job seekers to view and apply for open positions, and … Continue Reading

Personal Information, Private Information, Personally Identifiable Information…What’s the Difference?

When privacy geeks talk “privacy,” it is not uncommon for them to use certain terms interchangeably –personal data, personal information, personally identifiable information, private information, individually identifiable information, protected health information, or individually identifiable health information. They might even speak in acronyms – PI, PII, PHI, NPI, etc. Blurring those distinctions might be OK for … Continue Reading

Response to Yelp Review Costs Small Dental Practice $10,000 and Two Years of Monitoring to Settle HIPAA Complaint

No business likes to receive bad reviews on Yelp® or anywhere else in social media. When they do, some feel the need to respond to clarify or rebut the reviews, but they must do so carefully. This is particularly true for HIPAA covered entities, as their responses could include protected health information (PHI). A recent … Continue Reading

EMR Provider Settles OCR Allegations for $100,000; Is Your EMR provider HIPAA compliant?

Many health care providers, including small and medium-sized physician practices, rely on a number of third party service providers to serve their patients and run their businesses. Perhaps the most important of these is a practice’s electronic medical record (EMR) provider, which manages and stores patient protected health information. EMR providers generally are business associates … Continue Reading

HIPAA Penalties Change Under HHS Notice of Enforcement Discretion

When the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 became law, it made significant changes to the civil monetary penalties for violations of HIPAA. In addition to increasing the amounts of the penalties, HITECH created a tiered approach to penalties, establishing four categories based on levels of culpability. In addition, … Continue Reading

Small Michigan Medical Practice To Close Following Ransomware Attack

Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) continue to be targeted by ransomware, phishing and other cyberattacks; the consequences of which could be devastating. Those consequences include putting SMEs out of business, which is unfortunately the case for one small medical practice in Battle Creek, Michigan, as reported by HIPAAJournal. The reality is that the effects of these attacks … Continue Reading

A Trio of OCR HIPAA Breach Resolutions: Is Your Organization HIPAA Compliant?

Over the past thirty days, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) has reached three HIPAA breach resolutions, signaling to organizations that are covered entities and business associates under HIPAA, the importance of instituting basic best practices for data breach prevention and response. On November 26th, the OCR announced a settlement with Allergy Associations of Hartford, … Continue Reading

California Consumer Privacy Act Amendment Signed Into Law

On September 23, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB-1121 amending certain provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) which was enacted in June of this year. As we reported previously, CCPA will apply to any entity that does business in the State of California and satisfies one or more of … Continue Reading

“Your Own Cybersecurity Is Not Enough”: NJ Physician Practice Fined Over $400,000 for Data Breach Caused By Vendor

Last week, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (“Division”) announced that a physician group affiliated with more than 50 South Jersey medical and surgical practices agreed to pay $417,816 and improve data security practices to settle allegations it failed to properly protect the privacy of more … Continue Reading

Connecticut Supreme Court: Health Care Providers Can Be Sued for Unauthorized Disclosures of Confidential Information

Physician practices and other health care providers respond to numerous requests for confidential patient information from patients and others. Mistakes made by employees fulfilling such requests for medical records or making similar disclosures can expose the practice to civil litigation. A recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court (Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics and … Continue Reading

New York AG Announces SHIELD Act

On November 2nd, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced his proposal of the SHIELD Act – Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act – a bill that would heighten data security requirements for companies and better protect New York residents from data breaches of their personal information. “It’s clear that New York’s … Continue Reading

2-Year Statute of Limitations Applies to HIV Patient’s Privacy Suit

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that a two-year statute of limitations applies to a claim by an HIV-positive patient asserting one of his doctors improperly disclosed his medical status to a third party without consent.  The three-judge Appellate Division panel rejected arguments by the doctor that the suit should be dismissed as time-barred … Continue Reading

Data Analytics Enables Health Plans to Predict When Employees Need Health Services and For How Long

We know that data analytics is being used to influence a wide range of things such as the pair of shoes one might want to buy or what news is “trending” on Facebook. Similar tools are being applied to employer-sponsored group health plans. According to a recent HealthcareITnews article, vendors such as Advanced Plan for … Continue Reading

Smaller HIPAA Breaches To Get More Attention by Office for Civil Rights

The HIPAA breach notification rule has two buckets for classifying data breaches – those that involve “protected health information” (PHI) of 500 or more individuals and those that involve fewer than 500 individuals. Since the breach notification rule became effective, the Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) focus has been on the 500 and over bucket. But … Continue Reading

HIPAA and $15 Million in 2016

For years, many questioned whether the HIPAA privacy and security rules would be enforced. The agency responsible for enforcement, Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), promised it would enforce the rules, but just after a period “soft” enforcement and compliance assistance. That period appears to be ending. During the first seven months … Continue Reading
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