News from the Health Law Gurus™

News from the Health Law Gurus™ is a weekly summary of notable health law news from around the country with helpful links to related content.

Pa. Supreme Court Weighs in on Medical Record Charges—In Wayne M. Chiurazzi Law v. MRO, Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, writing for the majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, interpreted the Medical Records Act (“MRA”) such that health care providers can only charge fees for medical records and charts that are based on the actual and reasonable costs of producing such records. In the case before the Supreme Court, the defendants had charged the plaintiffs the maximum amount allowed under the MRA for producing their records. Justice Castille stated that the MRA requires health care providers to charge “the estimated actual and reasonable expenses of reproducing the charts or records” and that the “language and structure [of the MRA] plainly suggests that the pricing schedule serves as a cap” on the actual and reasonable expenses.

Medical Records Dumping Results in $800,000 Settlement—A 2009 incident involving the dumping of 71 boxes of medical records will cost an Indiana-based health system, Parkview Health System, Inc. (“Parkview”), $800,000 for alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). In a press release issued June 23, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced the resolution agreement as well as a corrective action plan entered into with Parkview to settle the allegations. Parkview employees left the 71 boxes of medical records in a physician’s driveway while she was not home. The settlement serves as an important reminder that HIPAA covers paper records as well as electronic records. To read our blog post on the incident, click here.

Health Records of Montana State Agency Breached­­—On Tuesday, Montana state officials said that 1.3 million people had their social security numbers and other information compromised during a May security breach orchestrated by as yet unidentified hackers. The hackers targeted a server connected to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services system, giving the hackers access to medical records of current and former patients and employees. Those affected by the breach have been offered free credit monitoring and identity protection services. To read a Chicago Tribune article about the Montana breach, click here.

Proposed Rule Brings Auto-Enrollment to ACA Exchange—On Thursday, HHS announced a proposed rule that would allow consumers buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange (also known as the “marketplace”) to sign up for auto-enrollment. This feature will allow consumers to remain in the same health plan for subsequent years.  HHS has indicated that there will be a number of safeguards for consumers using this feature. For example, to avoid accumulating back taxes, a consumer who no longer qualifies for a tax credit because of a change in income will be re-enrolled in the same plan, but without the tax credit.  Moreover, consumers will receive notices from the exchange with instructions on how to update information to ensure that tax credit information is current. In announcing the rule, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that HHS is “working to streamline the process for consumers wishing to remain in their current plan.”  To read the HHS press release, click here.  To read the proposed rule, 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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