HIPAA’S FINAL RULE: Putting Things in Perspective – Comments from OCR

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On March 22, 2013, Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) Director Leon Rodriguez presented the keynote address to attendees of the American Health Lawyers’ Association HIPAA/HITECH Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. His presentation focused on the long-awaited regulations officially published on January 25, 2013, that implement the majority of the remaining aspects of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act passed in 2009 (“HITECH”). These regulations, known as the “Final Rule,” modify numerous provisions of HIPAA’s existing regulations governing the privacy and security of health information protected by HIPAA (called the “Privacy Rule” and “Security Rule,” respectively) as well as finalize the interim regulations governing breaches of unsecured protected health information (the “Breach Notification Rule”).

The presentation by Director Rodriguez tempered the vigorous legal commentary that followed the publication of the rules on January 25. While the new rules certainly deserve detailed attention by covered entities and their business associates and subcontractors, Director Rodriguez provided a useful perspective on the value of compliance.

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