On February 17, 2017, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (“Horizon”) agreed to pay $1.1 million as part of a settlement with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (the “Division”) regarding allegations that Horizon did not adequately protect the privacy of nearly 690,000 policyholders. Continue Reading Health Insurer Reaches Privacy Settlement with New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs

On July 10, 2015, the United States House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Act”), which is intended to ease restrictions on the use and disclosure of protected health information (“PHI”) for research purposes.

Continue Reading House of Representatives Passes Bill to Permit Broader Use and Disclosure of Protected Health Information for Research Purposes

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently announced that it intends to survey up to 1,200 covered entities and business associates to determine their suitability for a more fulsome HIPAA compliance audit. In a notice published in the Federal Register, OCR stated that the survey will collect information such as “number of patient visits or insured lives, use of electronic information, revenue, and business locations” to assess the organizations’ “size, complexity and fitness” for an audit.

Continue Reading HHS Announces Pre-Audit HIPAA Surveys

On December 31, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Accretive Health, Inc. (“Accretive”) has agreed to settle charges that the company’s inadequate data security measures unfairly exposed sensitive consumer information to the risk of theft or misuse. Accretive experienced a breach in July 2011 that involved the protected health information of more than 23,000 patients.

Continue Reading FTC Reaches Settlement with Accretive Health

On May 21, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced a resolution agreement and $400,000 settlement with Idaho State University (“ISU”) for a breach that affected 17,500 individuals.

The ISU settlement relates to servers that had their firewall protections disabled, which left the electronic protected health information (“ePHI”) of patients at ISU’s Pocatello Family Medicine Clinic unsecured for at least ten months. Following the submission of a breach report to the HHS Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), an investigation determined that ISU allegedly had not complied with HIPAA Security Rule requirements, including by conducting an incomplete and inadequate risk analysis and by failing to “adequately implement procedures to regularly review records of information system activity to determine if any ePHI was used or disclosed in an inappropriate manner.”

Continue Reading HHS Announces Settlement with Idaho State University

On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final omnibus rule modifying prior regulations enacted pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Among the key changes that will come into effect this September is the addition of a provision that dramatically increases the number of organizations directly subject to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Breach Notification and Enforcement Rules. In an article published in the March/April issue of Storage & Destruction Business Magazine, Lisa J. Sotto, partner and head of the Global Privacy and Data Security practice at Hunton & Williams LLP, and Ryan P. Logan and Melinda L. McLellan, senior associates on the firm’s Privacy and Data Security team, discuss how the newly-adopted HIPAA Rules will impact business associates and outline steps that records and information management companies should take to prepare for the upcoming changes.

Download a PDF copy of the article.

The wait is over. On January 17, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS’”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released its long-anticipated megarule (“Omnibus Rule”) amending the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Breach Notification and Enforcement Rules. These amendments implement and expand on the requirements of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. The Omnibus Rule is effective March 26, 2013, and compliance is required with respect to most provisions no later than September 23, 2013. Coming into compliance will require significant effort and attention by covered entities and business associates alike. Below we highlight some of the more significant aspects of the Omnibus Rule and provide critical compliance tips.

Continue Reading New HIPAA Omnibus Rule: A Compliance Guide

On January 17, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued a Final Omnibus Rule modifying the Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules promulgated pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) as well as the Breach Notification Rule promulgated pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the “HITECH” Act) enacted in 2009. The Final Rule comes two and a half years after the proposed rule was published in July 2010.

Continue Reading HHS Issues Final Omnibus Rule Modifying HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement and Breach Notification Rules

On January 2, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced a resolution agreement and $50,000 settlement with Hospice of North Idaho (“HONI”) for a breach that affected 441 individuals. This action is notable because prior HHS enforcement actions relating to breaches have involved a greater number of affected individuals (for example, the first breach-related enforcement action in March 2012 affected more than 1 million). The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Breach Notification Rule sets 500 as a threshold number of affected individuals triggering certain notification requirements such as the obligation to notify HHS within 60 days of discovery of the breach.

Continue Reading HHS Settles First Enforcement Action Relating to a Breach Affecting Fewer than 500 Individuals

On November 26, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) published guidance on the two methods for de-identifying protected health information (“PHI”) in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The guidance, which was required by the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (“HITECH”) Act, has been developed over several years by OCR in collaboration with healthcare entities and other industry experts and builds upon the discussions from a workshop on de-identification that took place in March 2010.

Continue Reading HHS Publishes Guidance on How to De-Identify Protected Health Information