Tag Archives: HHS

COVID-19: HHS Issues FAQs on HIPAA and Telehealth to Help Providers Maintain Access to Care During the Pandemic

On March 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued additional guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on HIPAA and telehealth services to help providers furnish care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs follow and provide further information on the Notification of Enforcement Discretion issued by HHS on March 17 (Notification), … Continue Reading

HHS Issues Confusing Limited Waiver on Sharing of Patient Information Following COVID-19

Acknowledging the “additional challenges” on health care providers following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued several waivers for covered entities to address the need to share patient information after the President declared a national emergency concerning COVID-19. One of the waivers issued by HHS is to “waive … 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

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

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

HHS Increases Civil Monetary Penalties under HIPAA

In accordance with the Inflation Adjustment Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has updated its regulations to reflect required annual inflation-related increases to civil monetary penalties, including those for certain violations of HIPAA’s “administrative simplification” provisions. The final regulations became effective on November 5, 2019, the date they were published in the … Continue Reading

Privacy Tip #210 – HHS Office of Inspector General Issues Fraud Alert for Genetic Testing Scam Targeting Seniors

Everyone knows how I feel about those home genetic testing kits—most people don’t understand that when they send their DNA to a private company that it is not protected by HIPAA or any other law, and the company can legally use and disclose it, including selling it to other companies. Understand what companies are doing … Continue Reading

For First Time Ever, Government Brings HIPAA Enforcement Action Alleging Violations of Right to Access Medical Records

On September 9, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it had settled its first ever HIPAA enforcement action arising from alleged violations of the individual right to access health information under HIPAA. OCR entered into a settlement with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (Bayfront) in response … Continue Reading

OIG Issues Alert to Warn of ‘Free’ Genetic Testing Scams Seeking to Steal Information

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert to notify consumers about genetic testing fraud schemes (the Alert). According to the OIG, fraudulent actors are using the provision of free genetic testing kits to obtain Medicare information from unwitting consumers, and then … Continue Reading

OCR Issues Fact Sheet Listing Circumstances in which Business Associates May Face Direct Liability for HIPAA Violations

In a development that may – understandably – have been overlooked by many heading into Memorial Day weekend, on May 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Fact Sheet on Direct Liability of Business Associates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). … Continue Reading

Diagnostic Medical Imaging Company Pays $3 Million to Resolve Potential HIPAA Violations Stemming from Data Breach

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the enforcement arm of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), announced that a Tennessee diagnostic medical imaging services company has agreed to pay $3 million to settle potential HIPAA violations arising from a data breach that exposed over 300,000 patients’ protected health information. As part of the … Continue Reading

HHS Exercises Discretion to Reduce Maximum Annual Civil Money Penalties for Certain HIPAA Violations

On April 26, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Notification of Enforcement Discretion (Notice) regarding imposition of Civil Money Penalties (CMPs) under HIPAA. In the Notice, HHS announces that it has revisited its prior interpretation of the standards for assessment of CMPs under the HITECH Act, and is exercising … Continue Reading

Texas Health System MD Anderson Seeks 5th Circuit Review of HHS Determination that HIPAA Required Encryption of its ePHI

On April 8, 2019, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit seeking review of a decision by the Department of Health & Human Services’s (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board (DAB) Appellate Division to uphold $4.35 million in civil money penalties (CMPs) … Continue Reading

Anthem Settles with OCR for $16M for 2015 Data Breach

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced this week that it has settled the largest health care data breach for the largest enforcement fine in history. OCR settled the massive data breach Anthem suffered in 2015 for $16 million—a substantially larger fine than any others assessed by OCR for … Continue Reading

OIG Announces New Multidisciplinary Cybersecurity Team

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently announced the creation of a cybersecurity team focused on combating threats within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and within the health care industry. The team includes auditors, evaluators, investigators, and attorneys with experience in cybersecurity matters, and its work is intended to build on the … Continue Reading

Ciox Health, LLC Initiates Lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services Over Medical Records Request Fees under HIPAA and HITECH

On January 8, 2018, Ciox Health, LLC (Ciox) filed a complaint against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and then-acting Secretary Eric D. Hargan, alleging that the Department’s rules and guidance, under HIPAA and HITECH, “impose[] tremendous financial and regulatory burdens on health care providers and threatens to upend the medical-records industry that … Continue Reading

Privacy Tip #92 – Finally, HHS Is Removing SSNs from Medicare Cards

For those of you who know me, you know that I have been very frustrated with the federal and state governments for continuing to use Social Security numbers for eligibility, enrollment and participating in Medicare and Medicaid. This includes listing individuals’ Social Security numbers on the Medicare and Medicaid cards. The good news is that … Continue Reading

HHS Releases Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force Report

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its “Report on Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry,” which is the culmination of a year-long effort on behalf of the Cybersecurity Task Force, made up of industry professionals from the public and private sectors to identify and develop recommendations “on the growing … Continue Reading

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Issues Series of Cybersecurity Updates in Response to WannaCry Attack

In response to the WannaCry ransomware attack that infiltrated the computer systems of health care systems and other entities worldwide on or around May 12, 2017 (previously discussed here), HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) issued a series of updates to provide consumers and potentially affected organizations with information on … Continue Reading

21st Century Cures Act Includes Prohibition on Information Blocking and Mandates for Additional HIPAA Guidance

On November 30, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives voted strongly in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act (the Act), an expansive health bill that addresses the discovery and development of new medical therapies as well the delivery of health care treatment by providers. In 2015, the House had previously approved an earlier version … Continue Reading
LexBlog