Reported Breaches of 500 or More Individuals up to 93 and Affecting Over 2.5 Million Individuals; Enforcement and Penalties

As of Friday, June 4, 2010, 93 breaches affecting 500 or more individuals have been reported on the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Web site. The total number affected has gone beyond 2-1/2 million individuals today, and stands at 2,565,352 individuals. Of the 87 breaches involving breach of hard copy or electronic protected health information, 26% involve hard copy or paper records and 74% records on electronic media or devices. Overall, 71% of the 93 breaches involve theft or loss of records, many of which might have been avoided by appropriate securing of hard copy records and electronic media and devices. Below we remind readers of the Department of Health…

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HHS Publishes Proposed Rule for Electronic Health Record Incentive Program

HHS published today in the Federal Register:  “Medicare and Medicaid Programs–Electronic Health Record Incentive Program; Proposed Rule.”  75 FR 1844-2011.  Comments on this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) may be submitted to HHS no later than March 15, 2010.  Here is the Summary from the NPRM: “This proposed rule would implement the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)(Public Law 111-5) that provide incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs that adopt and meaningfully use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.  The proposed rule would specify the initial criteria an EP and eligible hospital must meet in order…

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HHS Publishes EHR Standards, Implementation Specifications and Certification Criteria IFR

HHS published today in the Federal Register:  “Health Information Technology: Initial Set of Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology”  75 FR 2013-2047.  This Interim Final Rule (IFR) is effective February 2, 2010.  Comments on the IFR may be submitted to HHS no later than March 15, 2010.  Here is the Summary from the IFR: “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing this interim final rule with a request for comments to adopt an initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria, as required by section 3004(b)(1) of the Public Health Service Act.  This interim final rule represents the first step in…

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HHS Strengthens HIPAA Enforcement

On Friday, October 30, 2009, HHS published in the Federal Register its Interim Final Rule that strengthens HIPAA enforcement under HITECH Act civil penalty revisions enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009.  “These HITECH Act revisions significantly increase the penalty amounts the Secretary [of HHS] may impose for violations of the HIPAA rules and encourage prompt corrective action,” according to the HHS press release.  The Interim Final Rule is effective as federal policy on November 30, 2009, and HHS requests comments by December 29, 2009. With the definition of ‘breach’ in the HITECH Act moving privacy and security violations under one requirement requiring…

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Three Key Properties of HIPAA Privacy and Security of Protected Health Information

HIPAA.com has received from its readers requests for information on topics related to HIPAA Administrative Simplification Privacy and Security Rules and to updates to those rules reflected in the HITECH Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009.  Recently, HIPAA.com answered the question of particular interest to several readers:  what exactly is protected health information (PHI)?  In this posting, we answer the question:  what are the fundamental properties that underlie privacy and security of protected health information? Three Key Properties The three key properties that underpin privacy and security under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are availability,…

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HHS Issues Interim Final Rule for HITECH ‘Breach Notification’

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has issued the Interim Final Rule for Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information.  The Interim Final Rule was signed by Secretary Sebelius on August 6, 2009, filed at the Federal Register on Wednesday, August 19, 2009, and will be published on Monday, August 24, 2009, in the Federal Register.  The effective date of the Interim Final Rule will be 30 days after publication, and will cover both covered entities and business associates of covered entities.  Here is the Summary of the Interim Final Rule: “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing this interim final rule with…

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