Health Law Blog: HHS Issues Model of Notices of Privacy Practices in Spanish

by Davis Brown Law Firm
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The following information was recently released on HealthIT.gov.

A Spanish version of the Model Notices of Privacy Practices (NPP) has been issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). These materials were developed through focus group testing with Spanish speakers. This resource provides patients and health plan subscribers culturally competent information about their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

According to the 2012 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people aged five or older, a figure more than double that of 1990. Health care providers and health plans must give individuals a Notice of Privacy Practices that explains how these entities may use and share their health information and how they can exercise their health privacy rights. HHS has provided separate models for health plans and health care providers to help them better serve their Spanish-speaking patients and plan members.

The four options for the model NPPs are:

  • Notice in the form of a booklet;
  • A layered notice that presents a summary of the information on the first page, followed by the full content on the following pages;
  • A notice with the design elements found in the booklet, but formatted for full page presentation.
  • A text only version of the notice.

The models reflect the regulatory changes of the 2013 Omnibus Rule and can serve as the baseline for covered entities working to come into compliance with the new requirements. In particular, the models highlight the new patient right to access their electronic information held in an electronic health record, if their provider has an EHR in their practice. Covered entities may use these models by entering their specific information into the model and then printing for distribution and posting on their websites.

Language barriers impact the ability of individuals to access health care and human services. Individuals with limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English are less likely to have a regular source of primary care. Providing information to patients in their primary language helps to provide them with meaningful access to quality health care. The Affordable Care Act expands on requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to improve the cultural competency of health care providers by providing a blueprint for individuals and health and health care organizations to implement culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Adoption of these standards will help advance better health and health care in the United States.

To view the Model Notices in Spanish, please visit our website.

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, click here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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