Archives: Health Information Privacy

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California’s Proposition 24 – CCPA 2.0 Meets the California GDPR

Proposition 24 is known as the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA). It is on the ballot in California on November 3, and if it passes it will amend and expand certain provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Some say it’s CCPA 2.0, however, there are some provisions that make the CPRA … Continue Reading

Community Health Systems, Inc. Settles for $5 M in Multi-State Settlement

On October 8, 2020, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (AG) announced that his office has entered into a multi-state settlement agreement with Community Health Systems, Inc. (CHS) stemming from an investigation of a 2014 data breach that exposed personal information of approximately 6.1 million patients, including 45,000 New Jersey residents. This is after CHS … Continue Reading

Premera Blue Cross Settles with OCR for $6.85 Million for Breach of 10.4 Million Records

Premera Blue Cross (Premera) has agreed to settle with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $6.85 million over allegations of violations of HIPAA after an investigation of a data breach that occurred in 2014 affecting 10.4 million individuals. This is the largest settlement the OCR has entered into with a covered entity in 2020, … Continue Reading

CCPA Amendments Signed by Governor Newsom

Recently we wrote about two amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) that were awaiting signature on Governor Newsom’s desk: AB 1281, which extends the one-year exemptions for employee information and business to business information for another year until January 1, 2022; and AB 713, which provides an exemption from the CCPA … Continue Reading

Athens Orthopedic Settles with OCR for $1.5M for Data Breach

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that it has settled potential violations of HIPAA with Athens Orthopedic Clinic PA (Athens) for $1.5 million, following an investigation of a data breach that occurred in 2016. The data breach compromised the protected health information of 208,557 individuals when … Continue Reading

HIPAA Business Associate Pays $2.3 Million Settlement After Hackers Target PHI of Over 6 Million Individuals

Health care providers and contractors continue to be a popular target for hackers. Recently, CHSPSC LLC (CHSPSC), which provides various services to hospitals and clinics indirectly owned by Community Health Systems, Inc. of Tennessee, agreed to pay $2,300,000 to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in settlement of potential violations of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security … Continue Reading

OCR Settles Five Investigations Under “Right of Access” Initiative

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced yesterday that it has settled five investigations in its HIPAA “Rights to Access” Initiative (Initiative), which OCR had stated would be an enforcement priority for it starting in 2019. The Initiative is “to support individuals’ right to timely access to their health records at a reasonable cost under … Continue Reading

AGs Express Concerns About Contact Tracing Apps and Protection of Consumer Personal Information

As many states continue to reopen businesses and permit more gatherings, public health officials are looking to contact tracing as a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.  In contact tracing, public health staff work with patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection to help them recall everyone with whom they had close … Continue Reading

OCR Issues Guidance About Media Access to Health Care Facilities

These days, news stations are frequently running stories concerning people being treated for COVID-19, the providers working tirelessly to care for them, and politicians visiting health care facilities for a first-hand look at the crisis. In response to the media interest, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance on May 5, 2020 to healthcare … Continue Reading

HHS Finalizes Joint Rules on Electronic Health Record Interoperability and Access

On March 9, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced final rules seeking to give patients more access to, and control of, their health data. The final rules were issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The ONC rule is … Continue Reading

Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights Issues Guidance Regarding HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) last month provided guidance and a reminder to HIPAA covered entities and their business associates regarding the sharing of patient health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule during an outbreak or emergency situation such as what we are all facing right now … Continue Reading

Yearly Data Breach Reporting Due to OCR by February 29

Every year, we remind our readers that the HIPAA data breach notification regulations require covered entities to notify the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of any reportable data breaches that involved fewer than 500 individuals and have not already been self-reported within 60 days following the calendar year. That means that covered entities are required … Continue Reading

Over 30 Data Breach Incidents in Health Care Reported to HHS Thus Far in 2020, Affecting Over 1 Million Individuals

Health care organizations continue to be a popular target for hackers. According to information from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), more than 30 reports of data breaches were filed by health care entities in the first month and a half of 2020. Although a few reported breaches involved theft or improper … Continue Reading

HHS Issues Timely Reminder of Applicability of HIPAA to Outbreak Situations

On February 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a bulletin (the Bulletin) to remind covered entities and business associates of how patient information may be shared under HIPAA in the event of an emergency, such as an outbreak of infectious disease. The Bulletin was issued in response to the … Continue Reading

30,000 Cannabis Users’ Data Exposed

A point of sale vendor for at least three cannabis dispensaries in the United States exposed the personal data of at least 30,000 cannabis users, including full names, photo IDs, dates of birth, telephone numbers, home addresses, medical ID numbers, email addresses, signatures, cannabis variety and quantity purchased, and sales figures when it failed to … Continue Reading

Cyber Criminals Using Coronavirus Concern to Assist with Intrusions

Concern over the spreading coronavirus from China is legitimate and real. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, and the United States and other countries are limiting travel of individuals from the affected areas in China. As we have seen with other public concerns, cyber criminals and threat actors … Continue Reading

OCR Comments on Recent Ciox Case Vacating Certain Omnibus Rule Regulations and Guidance Relating to Fees for Providing Patient Records

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an Important Notice Regarding Individuals’ Right of Access to Health Records through its email list serve on January 29, 2020.  In the Notice, OCR addressed the recent memorandum Opinion issued in Ciox Health v. Azar, et al, No. 18-cv-00040 (D.D.C. January 23, 2020). In that case, … Continue Reading

Changing the Conversation About Sharing and Using Health Information

Some app developers know more about our health than our doctors do. Take, for instance, FitBit, which is attached to our wrist and measuring in real time our temperature, our heart rate, our steps and whether we have had enough exercise for our age in a day. Some people sleep with their phones on their … Continue Reading

Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center Warns Health Systems to Be Wary of Iranian Cyber-Attacks

Following the escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran in the past week, the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (H-ISAC) is warning hospitals and health systems that Iran could attack health organizations, which are considered critical infrastructure, and that they make sure their systems are being updated with patches. H-ISAC further recommended … Continue Reading

OCR Announces Second $85,000 Settlement for Alleged Violations of the Individual Right of Access under HIPAA

On December 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its second “HIPAA Right of Access Initiative” settlement of alleged HIPAA violations. The HIPAA Right of Access Initiative is a new effort in 2019 by OCR to monitor compliance with HIPAA requirements addressing patient rights to promptly … Continue Reading

Banner Health Settles Data Breach Class Action Litigation for $6 Million

Arizona-based Banner Health has agreed to settle for up to $6 million a class action case filed against it following a 2016 incident that compromised the personal information of 3 million individuals. The breach compromised data on two information technology systems at the health system, including patient information and health insurance information on one system, … Continue Reading

Misdirected Hospital Bills Lead to $2.175 Million HIPAA Settlement

On November 27, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a $2.175 million dollar settlement with a hospital system to resolve alleged violations of HIPAA’s Breach Notification Rule and Privacy Rule. The settlement is noteworthy as it represents OCR’s fourth HIPAA settlement in excess of $1 million … Continue Reading

Texas Health and Human Services Fined $1.6 Million for HIPAA Violations

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it has fined the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (TXHHS) $1.6 million for HIPAA violations. This is one of the few fines the OCR has levied against a state agency. The fine centers around a data breach that TXHHS self-reported to the OCR in June 2015 … Continue Reading
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