On March 21, 2020, the data security provisions of New York’s Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act went into effect. The SHIELD Act requires any person or business owning or licensing computerized data that includes the private information of a resident of New York to implement and maintain reasonable safeguards to protect the security, confidentiality and integrity of the private information.
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The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a Bulletin on sharing and protecting patients’ protected health information during the COVID-19 national emergency. The Bulletin emphasizes that HIPAA-covered entities may use or disclose patients’ PHI when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation’s public health and for other critical purposes.
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The District Court for the District of Columbia recently invalidated certain Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) rules regarding an individual’s access to their protected health information (“PHI”). The Court held that: (1) individuals can only direct their electronic PHI to third parties (and not hard copy PHI); and (2) the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Omnibus Rule provisions regarding the caps on fees that HIPAA-covered entities may charge for such requests did not follow relevant administrative law procedures.
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On July 11, 2019, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office had entered into a consent decree and $10 million settlement with Premera Blue Cross (“Premera”) that stems from a 2014-2015 breach that affected more than 11 million individuals. The settlement, which includes a payment of roughly $5.4 million to Washington state and $4.6 million to a coalition of 29 other state Attorneys General (the “Multistate AGs”), is one of the largest ever for a breach involving protected health information (“PHI”) and comes just one month after another notable HIPAA settlement involving a similar coalition of state AGs.

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