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Deven McGraw on the Great Privacy Debate: Impact of ARRA 2009

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Health Privacy Resources

Health Privacy Project at Center for Democracy and Technology

  • Health IT and electronic health information exchange have tremendous potential to improve health care quality, reduce costs, and empower consumers
  • The public wants health IT – but also has significant privacy concerns
  • Failure to build foundation of trust is an obstacle to achieving greater health information exchange

Health Privacy Project at CDT

  • For years there was no progress on resolving the privacy and security issues raised by e-health
  • Project’s aim: Develop and promote workable privacy and security policy solutions for personal health information

Evolution of Federal Privacy Protections

    1996 – Enactment of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Congress gives itself 3 years to enact privacy legislation
  • 1999 – Proposed rules
  • 2000 – Final rule
  • 2002 – Regulatory changes
  • 2003 – Effective for most

Era of Health Information Technology

    Health IT bills stalled in 108th &109th
  • Privacy was framed as the obstacle – but it wasn’t the only issue
    Legislation moved furthest in 110th – but economic woes stalled progress


  • Broke the privacy "logjam"
  • Most significant change to the healthcare privacy and security environment since the original HIPAA privacy rule
  • Not a change to everything about HIPAA – but some significant changes that will need to be addressed by many entities handling health care information
  • Most provisions require further regulatory clarification

Privacy and Security Provisions – Overview

  • Substantive changes to HIPAA statutory provisions and privacy and security regulations
  • Enhanced enforcement of HIPAA
  • Provisions to address health information held by some entities not covered by HIPAA
  • Misc: Administration/Studies/Reports/Educational Initiatives

Substantive HIPAA Changes

    Breach notification requirement
  • Definition of breach
  • Safe harbor for “protected” data
  • Detailed requirements re: timing and content of notice; how provided to individual and HHS
  • Business Associates must notify covered entities
  • Strengthened individual right to restrict disclosures to health plans for payment and operations
  • Secretary guidance on minimum necessary
  • Use of limited data set where possible in interim
  • Discloser determines minimum necessary
  • Minimum necessary still does not apply to treatment
    Accounting for disclosure requirements for entities using electronic health records
  • Requirement applies after standard and regulations are developed
  • Phased in over time
  • Covers only 3 years
  • Change with respect to how business associates comply
    Patient right of electronic access
  • Can direct record to another entity or individual (PHR)
  • Changes to definition of marketing
  • Limited right to use information for marketing if the communication is paid for by an outside entity
  • Exceptions for treatment communications and communications about current drugs and biologics
  • Opt-out for fundraising communications
    BA contracts required for RHIOs – and PHRs in some instances
    Prohibition on “sale” of health records or protected health information
  • Public health
  • Research
  • Treatment of an individual
  • Sale of a facility/business
  • Payments to business associates
  • Copies to individuals
  • Designated by Secretary in regulations

HIPAA Enforcement

Business Associates accountable to authorities for compliance with some HIPAA privacy and security rules (+ new provisions)
Application of HIPAA criminal provisions to individuals
Ability to civilly enforce where violation qualifies as criminal but no criminal penalties pursued
Requirement to impose civil penalties in cases of willful neglect
  • Corrective action may still be pursued for lesser offenses
Tiered increase in civil monetary penalties
Distribution of % of civil penalties to individuals (penalties also go to OCR)
State AG civil enforcement
Secretary required to do periodic audits

Provisions for Entities not Covered by HIPAA

Temporary breach notification provisions for PHR vendors and internet applications
  • Breach definition
  • Same safe harbor for protected information
  • Enforced by FTC
Study by HHS & FTC with report to Congress on privacy and security recommendations for PHRs
  • Which agency should regulate?
  • Timeframe for regulations (no specific authority to regulate)

Misc. (Administration/Studies/Reports/Educational Initiatives)

  • Strengthened authority for ONC
  • New advisory committees on policy and standards
  • OCR public education initiative on uses of PHI and individual rights under HIPAA
  • Privacy Officers in each HHS region
  • Chief Privacy Officer within ONC - Not charged with HIPAA enforcement/oversight

Misc. (Studies/Reports/Educational Initiatives)

    Studies/Reports by HHS Secretary
  • Annual report on enforcement
  • Study on implementation of the de-identification requirements
  • Study of HIPAA definition of psychotherapy notes with respect to inclusion of test data and materials used for evaluative purposes
    GAO Studies:
  • Methodology for providing individuals with a % of civil monetary penalties
  • Report on best practices for disclosure of PHI for treatment purposes
  • Report on Impact of ARRA provisions on health care costs and adoption of EHRs

March 12, 2009 in A Bank-Driven eHealth Ecosystem, Medical Banking Institute, Medical Consumerism | Permalink


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Posted by: Estuabacups | Apr 4, 2009 5:05:48 AM

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