Tag Archives: HIPAA

Fall-Out from Blackbaud Ransomware Attack

As a follow-up to last week’s post on the importance of due diligence regarding high-risk vendors’ security practices, Blackbaud, a global company providing financial and fundraising technology to not-for-profit entities, notified its customers late last week that it was the victim of a ransomware attack in mid-May. Blackbaud offers a number of products to its … 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

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

OIG Audit Finds that Majority of Part D Providers Surveyed Used E1 Transactions for Potentially Inappropriate Purposes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requested an audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of Medicare Part D eligibility verification transactions (E1) transactions. The OIG recently released its report which found that the majority of the providers evaluated used E1 transactions for some inappropriate purpose other than to bill for a … 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

The Washington Privacy Act – Re-Introduced for 2020 – Is it the Best of CCPA and GDPR?

Washington legislators recently introduced the Washington Privacy Act (WPA). This legislation is a consumer-focused privacy law similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) but it also has some European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-like concepts. The WPA protects personal data in much the same way as the CCPA, but with some significant differences. … 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

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

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

Introducing the New York SHIELD Act

The New York “Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act” (SHIELD Act), N.Y. Gen Bus. Law§ 899-bb, requires businesses that collect private information on New York residents to implement reasonable cybersecurity safeguards to protect that information. While this is a new law in the State of New York, it is simply joining other states, … Continue Reading

Jackson Health System Fined by OCR

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on October 23, 2019, that Jackson Health System (Jackson), a not-for-profit hospital system comprised of six hospitals, urgent care centers, nursing facilities, and primary care and specialty services based in Miami, Florida, has waived its right to a hearing and did not contest the findings set forth in … Continue Reading

Dental Practice Pays $10,000 Fine to OCR for Disclosing PHI on Social Media

Elite Dental Associates (Elite), located in Dallas, Texas has agreed to settle alleged HIPAA violations with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $10,000. The OCR alleged that it received a complaint from a patient in June of 2016 that Elite had disclosed the patient’s last name and details of the patient’s health condition on … 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

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

Questions to Consider Asking Your Broker About Cyberliability Coverage

One of the first questions we ask our clients when they call about a security incident is whether they have insurance that may cover the costs associated with investigating the incident, potential forensic analysis, and coverage for a data breach. Sometimes the client will say “Yes, we have cyber coverage.” However, when reviewing the coverage … Continue Reading

Privacy Tip #191 – Trying to Protect Your Medical Information—Let’s Ask Questions About Data Security

In the top three of the list of highly sensitive personal data to be concerned about is our medical information. It’s so sensitive because it is so personal. It used to be that our medical information was located in paper charts at our doctor’s office, the hospital, the pharmacy and our health insurer. Now it’s … 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

OCR Issues Request for Information Regarding Modification of HIPAA To Promote Care Coordination and Transition to Value-Based Care

On December 14, 2018 the Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting public input on updates to regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) with the goals of removing “regulatory obstacles” and decreasing “regulatory burdens” in furtherance of the health care industry’s … Continue Reading

OCR Announces $125,000 Settlement for Disclosure of Patient Information to Reporter

The United States Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced a settlement this week with Allergy Associates of Hartford, P.C. whereby Allergy Associates agreed to pay $125,000 to resolve a HIPAA violation complaint that alleged the covered entity impermissibly disclosed the complainant’s Protected Health Information (PHI) to an unauthorized third … Continue Reading
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