Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 12/18/2018

HHS Seeks Feedback Regarding HIPAA Rules

On Dec. 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Request for Information seeking input from the public on how the HIPAA Rules could be modified to further HHS’s goal of promoting coordinated, value-based healthcare.

OCR noted that in recent years it has received feedback to reevaluate certain aspects of the HIPAA Rules that may limit or discourage the sharing of information needed to coordinate care or to facilitate the transition to value-based health care. Specifically, OCR is requesting information on any provisions of the HIPAA Rules that may hinder these objectives without meaningfully contributing to the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) or patients’ ability to exercise their rights with respect to their PHI.  

The HHS Deputy Secretary also highlighted concerns that the HIPAA Privacy Rule was deterring patients and families from obtaining assistance for opioid-related issues as another key reason in seeking public comment.

In addition to requesting broad feedback on the HIPAA Rules, OCR identified the following aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule for potential modification:

  • Promoting information sharing for treatment and care coordination and/or case management by amending the Privacy Rule to encourage, incentivize or require covered entities to disclose PHI to other covered entities.
  • Encouraging covered entities, particularly providers, to share treatment information with parents, loved ones and caregivers of adults facing health emergencies, with a particular focus on the opioid crisis.
  • Implementing the HITECH Act requirement to include, in an accounting of disclosures, disclosures for treatment, payment and health care operations from an electronic health record in a manner that provides helpful information to individuals, while minimizing the regulatory burdens and disincentives to the adoption and use of interoperable electronic health records.
  • Eliminating or modifying the requirement for certain providers to make a good faith effort to obtain individuals’ written acknowledgment of receipt of the provider’s Notice of Privacy Practices.

Public comments regarding this request are due to OCR by Feb. 11, 2019. The request can be downloaded from the Federal Register here.

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