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Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Seeks Input on Proposed HIPAA Changes

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering making some key changes to HIPAA and the requirements relating to the disclosure of protected health information (PHI).

Specifically, HHS issued a Request for Information on the following:

  1. Methods of accounting of all disclosures of a patient's protected health information; 
  2. patients' acknowledgment of receipt of a providers' notice of privacy practices (NPP);
  3. creation of a safe harbor for good faith disclosures of PHI for purposes of care coordination or case management; 
  4. disclosures of protected health information without a patient's authorization for treatment, payment, and health care operations; and
  5. the minimum necessary standard/requirement.

In the Request for Information, HHS poses over fifty questions regarding the proposed changes, such as:

  • How long does it take for covered entities to provide an individual with a copy of their PHI?
  • What is the burden to obtain written acknowledgment of receipt of the NPP?
  • Should covered entities be required to provide copies of PHI maintained in an electronic record more rapidly?
  • What burdens would a shortened timeframe place on covered entities?
  • What is the burden to maintain documentation of receipt of the NPP?
  • Should covered entities be required to disclose PHI to other covered entities for treatment?
  • What use, if any, do covered entities make of NPP forms?
  • Should proposed changes apply to all covered entities or a subset of entities?
  • Are there modifications to the content of the NPP that would ease the burden of compliance?

If implemented, these changes could change day-to-day operations for covered entities, especially healthcare providers, with respect how it handles disclosures of PHI, patient authorizations and providing the Notice of Privacy Practices.

If you would like to provide comments or information, you can submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal by searching for Docket ID number HHS–OCR– 0945–AA00, or by hand-delivery or U.S. Mail to: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, Attention: RFI, RIN 0945-AA00, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 509F, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201.

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