The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights wants to hear from health care providers, business associates and members of the public about how they can best modify HIPAA regulations. On Dec. 12, 2018, OCR issued a Request for Information, asking the public for comments on how the regulations can best facilitate continuity of care and decrease regulatory burdens.
“We are looking for candid feedback about how the existing HIPAA regulations are working in the real world and how we can improve them,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “We are committed to pursuing the changes needed to improve quality of care and eliminate undue burdens on covered entities while maintaining robust privacy and security protections for individuals’ health information.”
They are looking for feedback in the following areas:
- Promoting information sharing for treatment and care coordination and/or case management by amending the Privacy Rule to encourage, incentivize, or require covered entities to disclose PHI to other covered entities.
- Encouraging covered entities, particularly providers, to share treatment information with parents, loved ones, and caregivers of adults facing health emergencies, with a particular focus on the opioid crisis.
- Implementing the HITECH Act requirement to include, in an accounting of disclosures, disclosures for treatment, payment, and health care operations (TPO) from an electronic health record in a manner that provides helpful information to individuals, while minimizing regulatory burdens and disincentives to the adoption and use of interoperable EHRs.
- Eliminating or modifying the requirement for covered health care providers to make a good faith effort to obtain individuals’ written acknowledgment of receipt of providers’ Notice of Privacy Practices, to reduce burden and free up resources for covered entities to devote to coordinated care without compromising transparency or an individual’s awareness of his or her rights.
Additionally, OCR is encouraging health care providers, business associates and members of the public to answer 54 questions that relate to their experiences working with health care data to determine which aspects of the regulations are necessary and which may be overly burdensome.
The RFI can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-12-14/pdf/2018-27162.pdf
The deadline for comment is Feb. 12, 2019. OCR has provided the following methods to submit comments:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal. You may submit electronic comments at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the Docket ID number HHS–OCR– 0945–AA00. Follow the instructions for sending comments.
- Hand-Delivery or Regular, Express, or Overnight Mail: S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, Attention: RFI, RIN 0945– AA00, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 509F, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201.
Instructions: All submissions received must include ‘‘Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights RIN 0945–AA00’’ for this RFI. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
As a compliance professional, I will be submitting comments on areas that impact my clients on Feb. 8, 2019. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact me, and I’ll be happy to discuss your concerns or include your inquiry in my comments. I can be reached toll-free at 1-888-959-9501 or at Samarria@dunsongroup.com.
Article contributed by Samarria Dunson, J.D., CHC, CHPC, attorney/principal of The Dunson Group, LLC, a health care compliance consulting and law firm in Montgomery, Ala. Attorney Dunson is also Of Counsel with the law firm of Balch & Bingham, LLP. The Dunson Group, LLC, is an official partner with the Medical Association.