Office of Civil Rights

News & Analysis as of

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

Agencies Encourage New Privacy Regulations to Close the mHealth Black Hole and Keep Pace with Evolving Technologies

On July 19, 2016, the ONC submitted a report to Congress which suggests that health privacy regulations soon may be revised to catch up with the universe of mHealth technologies that now use and share personal health data....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

Client Alert: OCR Blitzkrieg: Wider Investigation of Smaller Breaches

On the heels of its first business associate settlement with a business associate and a hat trick of multi-million dollar settlements with covered entities involving electronic Protected Health Information (“PHI”), on August...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

United States District Court Enjoins Enforcement of Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students; Decision May Impact OCR...

On August 21, 2016, in a case entitled State of Texas et al. v. United States of America et al ., Judge Reed O’Connor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary...more

HHS Issues Final Non-Discrimination Rules for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers and others who receive federal financial assistance are now subject to new non-discrimination rules and notice requirements under the Affordable Care Act. The new regulation prohibits discrimination in...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

Smaller HIPAA Breaches To Get More Attention by Office for Civil Rights

The HIPAA breach notification rule has two buckets for classifying data breaches – those that involve “protected health information” (PHI) of 500 or more individuals and those that involve fewer than 500 individuals. Since...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

Gavin Grimm v. Glouchester County School Board—Is the Supreme Court Finally Weighing in on the Transgender Bathroom Debate?

On August 3, 2016, the United States Supreme Court granted a stay to a Virginia school Board pending Supreme Court review of the case. In an action reminiscence of the same sex marriage controversy, the Supreme Court's...more

Office for Civil Rights Issues New Dear Colleague Letter Regarding ADHD

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued another Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on July 26, 2016 regarding the obligation of school districts to students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) under Section 504 of...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

Record-Breaking HIPAA Settlement Sends Strong Message to Covered Entities

This month marked the largest HIPAA settlement to-date for a single entity. Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”) agreed to pay $5.5 million and adopt a corrective action plan after an investigation by the Department of...more

Recent DOJ Settlement Agreement Offers Valuable Guidance Regarding Mandatory Medical Leaves of Absence

A recent settlement agreement entered into between the Educational Opportunities Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, and the University of Tennessee provides some useful insight into what...more

Office of Civil Rights Posts HIPAA Phase II Audit Guidance and Advocate Health Care Settlement Information

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently uploaded two items of interest: information regarding the largest penalty to date against a single entity, Advocate Health Care Network (Advocate), and HIPAA Phase II Desk Audit...more

Latest OCR HIPAA Settlement Provides Lessons for Covered Entities

Capping off a busy month of HIPAA settlements, on August 4, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced a $5.55 million settlement with Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”), the largest fully-integrated healthcare...more

Department of Education Issues Guidance Regarding Meeting the Needs of Students with ADHD

The Department of Education recently issued a Dear Colleague Letter explaining the obligations of school districts to students with ADHD under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The guidance notes that over the last five...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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