Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a federal executive department established in 1953, as part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Agency became independent in 1980... more +
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a federal executive department established in 1953, as part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Agency became independent in 1980 and was renamed The Department of Health and Human Services at that time. HHS is charged with protecting and improving the health of the American population, as well as providing essential services.    less -
News & Analysis as of

Blog: GAO Criticizes HHS In Health Information Cybersecurity Report

On Monday, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report (the “Report”) criticizing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) security and privacy guidance and oversight in protecting...more

Small-Breach Focus Shows Growing Scope Of HIPAA Probes

Flexing yet more enforcement muscle under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, on Aug. 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced that it will more widely...more

Outdated Business Associate Agreement Leads to Another Six-Figure HIPAA Settlement

On September 23, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that Care New England Health System (CNEHS) agreed to pay $400,000 and enter into a corrective action plan...more

Taking Measure of HIPAA Enforcement

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the largest settlement to date for alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)....more

A Deeper Dive: Employers Receiving Federal Funding May Be Subject to ACA’s Nondiscrimination Rule and Need to Cover Transgender...

In recent months, we have written a fair amount about providing transgender benefits in light of the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Our blogs of March 30, 2016 and June 22, 2016 highlight the key...more

Don’t Ignore Ransomware Vulnerabilities; You Could Be Violating FTC Act

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission convened a ransomware workshop to discuss the rising epidemic of attacks against U.S. businesses and individuals. In a ransomware attack, a malicious actor tricks a user into...more

OCR Continues to Strengthen HIPAA Enforcement Efforts

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") sent a strong HIPAA enforcement message this summer, entering four resolution agreements, including the highest financial settlement to...more

OCR Sets Sights on Smaller HIPAA Breaches

Covered entities and business associates can expect increased scrutiny for breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting fewer than 500 individuals. Starting August 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human...more

HHS Issues Final Rule on the ACA's Anti-Discrimination Provisions

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule (the Rule) implementing the prohibition on discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits...more

Corporate Investigations and White Collar Defense - August 2016

Spotlight on the False Claims Act - Why it matters: This month, we review a recent Ninth Circuit case that allowed a qui tam relator’s action against various Medicare Advantage organizations to proceed, holding that the...more

Healthcare Compliance: Juggling Risk Mitigation Strategies

Healthcare organizations – ranging from physician practice groups to large, multi-state hospital systems – face a variety of risks, including fraud and abuse, as well as HIPAA privacy issues. Starting from a baseline risk...more

HHS Office for Civil Rights to Increase Investigation of Small HIPAA Breaches

The Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OCR) recently announced that it has increased its review of breaches of protected health information affecting fewer than 500 individuals....more

OCR to Focus More Investigative Resources on Smaller HIPAA Breaches with Less Than 500 Individuals Affected

The Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced it will devote more resources to investigate smaller HIPAA breaches. Before this announcement, OCR typically opened...more

OCR to Investigate More HIPAA Breaches Affecting Fewer Than 500 Individuals

On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced plans to expand its investigations of reported breaches of the Health Insurance Portability and...more

HIPAA Security Rule Compliance for Providers & Business Associates in Three Easy Steps

On August 4, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) of the U.S. Health & Human Services Department (“HHS”) announced a $5.55 million HIPAA settlement with Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”), the largest...more

HIPAA Phase 2 Audits: What Has OCR Requested from Auditees to Date?

In our April 8, 2016, advisory, we discussed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) “Phase 2” audit program. Then, we could only make educated guesses about what documents OCR...more

A Closer Look at the OCR’s Guidance on Ransomware

In the wake of several high-profile ransomware infections targeting hospitals and health care organizations, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance on the growing threat...more

OCR Plans to More Widely Investigate HIPAA Breaches Affecting Fewer than 500 Individuals

This month the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched an initiative “to more widely investigate the root causes” of HIPAA breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals, according to an August 18, 2016 OCR email...more

Now is a Good Time to Review Your HIPAA Policies

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced it is increasing its investigations of breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) affecting fewer than 500 individuals. As a reminder, the HIPAA Breach...more

OCR to Increase Efforts to Investigate Breaches Affecting Fewer Than 500 Individuals

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is the federal agency tasked with investigating data breaches involving protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and...more

OCR to Increase Investigations of Smaller HIPAA Breaches

HHS Office for Civil Rights will cast a wider net and increase its investigations into smaller HIPAA privacy breaches starting this month. OCR announced a new initiative to increase its efforts examining breaches that affect...more

$2.75 Million OCR Settlement Underscores the Importance of Risk Management and Analysis

How the theft of a single password-protected laptop turned into an enterprise-wide review of an organization’s data protection practices. Following the announcement of a recent settlement between the U.S. Department of...more

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act Requires Healthcare Providers to Take Certain Steps in 2016 to Promote Equity

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act aims to advance healthcare equity. This statutory provision provides that current non-discrimination laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will now apply to individuals and...more

It’s Not the Olympics, but OCR Sets New HIPAA Settlement Records

Athletes at the Rio Olympics aren’t the only ones setting records this year. Hoping to send a “strong message” about the importance of safeguarding electronic protected health information (PHI) and conducting mandated risk...more

Blog: Advocate Data Breaches Result in Largest HIPAA Settlement To Date

On August 8th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued the largest Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) settlement to date with Advocate Health...more

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