HIPAA Update – HHS Issues HITECH Act Proposed Rule


On July 14, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (Proposed Rule) to implement modifications to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's (HIPAA) Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules. The Proposed Rule implements changes made to Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) and are intended to strengthen the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). Highlights of the Proposed Rule, which are important to group health plans, are outlined below:

Business Associates.

Business associates will be directly liable for Privacy and Security Rule failures related to PHI held by the business associate. The definition of "business associate" will be expanded to include subcontractors of business associates who receive PHI. Business associates will be required to obtain from subcontractors written assurances that meet the business associate contract requirements regarding the safeguarding of PHI. Subcontractors will be business associates for purposes of HIPAA.

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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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