Office of Civil Rights

News & Analysis as of

OCR HIPAA Phase 2 Audits Coming Soon. Be Prepared.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced that the agency expects to begin Phase 2 Audits in early 2016. OCR intends to conduct desk audits and on-site audits of covered...more

New HIPAA Audit Program Expected in 2016

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued a report reviewing the HIPAA audit program that is administered by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR is responsible...more

The Bathroom Dilemma in the News – Transgender Rights on the Front Page

The front page of last Sunday’s New York Times ‘Styles’ section was almost entirely devoted to an article called “The Symbols of Change,” recounting how many public venues are converting from the traditional male/female...more

HHS Office of Inspector General Calls for Increased Oversight and Enforcement of HIPAA

On September 29, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Office of Evaluation and Inspections, released two studies calling on the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to...more

OIG Emphasizes Proactive Enforcement of Privacy Rule and Monitoring of Repeat Offenders

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) recently released Privacy Standards report assessed the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) oversight of covered entities’ compliance with the Privacy Rule as well as the extent to which...more

DWT Releases Latest Health Care Breach Charts

Safeguarding patient information is at the core of responsibilities for health care entities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But safeguarding patient information isn’t just a regulatory...more

OCR Finds That Title IX Requires Equal Locker Room Access for Transgender Students

The US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), recently confirmed that transgender students are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX and found that a public school district violated Title IX...more

Mental health center hacked

Not-for-profit mental health center Emergence Health Network, located in El Paso, Texas, has announced that its computer servers were compromised “through an unauthorized internet connection” from as far back as 2012....more

Are Attorneys Entitled to “HIPAA Rate”?

Over the past year, numerous lawsuits and complaints to the HHS Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) have been filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys over a seemingly obscure HIPAA issue – the rate that health care providers and their...more

OCR Finds Title IX Violation for School District’s Prohibition of Transgender Student’s Use of Locker Room

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently concluded that a public school district in Illinois violated Title IX both by prohibiting a transgender high school student from using the locker...more

OCR Audits to Begin in 2016

Beginning in 2016, the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will conduct another round of audits to gauge compliance with privacy provisions in the Health Insurance Portability...more

Data-Harvesting Zombie Hackers, Blood-Thirsty Auditors, and Other Reasons to be Scared on Halloween

This Halloween, the scariest monsters might not be in your closet or under your bed. They may be overseas, orchestrating intrusions into your electronic medical record. Or they may be lurking in your own workforce, carrying...more

HHS’ Selection of Contractor Provides Latest Update on Impending Second Round of HIPAA Audits

On October 27, 2015, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) official stated that the agency has hired FCi Federal, a provider of management and professional services to government agencies in Ashburn, VA, to...more

OCR Announces HIPAA Security Settlement with Cancer Care Group, P.C.

In September, 2015, OCR and HHS issued a press release announcing a Resolution Agreement with the Cancer Care Group, P.C., which included entry into the agreement, the adoption of a robust compliance plan, and the payment of...more

Title IX Implications of the O'Bannon Decision

The recent federal appellate decision in O'Bannon v. NCAA may have profound implications for colleges obligated to ensure gender equity in athletics under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). In the...more

OIG Pushes OCR to Step Up HIPAA Enforcement

In two recent reports, each with a specific focus, the OIG strongly recommended that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) step up its HIPAA oversight and enforcement activities. One report assessed the OCR’s oversight of covered...more

California Bill Seeking Minimum Punishments in College Sexual Misconduct Cases Vetoed

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill introduced to the California State Assembly earlier this year. The bill sought to require colleges to give a minimum two year suspension if a student was found guilty of...more

Court of Appeals Rules that Kansas University Cannot Expel Accused Student for Off-Campus Sexual Misconduct

To what extent can an institution discipline a student for off-campus behavior directed at another student vis-à-vis the Internet? This issue was addressed in a recent case involving the University of Kansas (the...more

OCR Launches Platform for Developer HIPAA Questions

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released a new platform to provide mobile health developers (and any other interested stakeholders) a sounding board to ask questions, voice concerns, and “spitball” ideas about HIPAA...more

OCR portal designed for medical mobile app developers

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services has launched a web based portal so medical mobile app developers can ask their “burning” questions about HIPAA compliance....more

HHS Releases Far-Reaching Proposed Rule to Prohibit Discrimination by “Covered Entities” Pursuant to Section 1557 of the...

On September 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published a proposed rule titled “Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities” (“Proposed Rule”)[1] to implement the nondiscrimination...more

Privacy, Security, Risk: What You Missed At IAPP Conference

Earlier this month, privacy and security professionals from around the globe gathered for “Privacy. Security. Risk. 2015”—the second joint conference between the International Association of Privacy Professionals and the...more

HIPAA Fine Underscores OCR’s Focus on Physician Group Compliance

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced a $750,000 fine and resolution agreement, including a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), for Cancer Care Group, P.C. (CCG), a...more

OIG Reports Insufficient Oversight Of HIPAA Compliance

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) must improve its oversight and enforcement of patient information privacy and security rules by “covered entities” and their business associates under the Health Information Portability...more

Is Your HIPAA Compliance Program Ready for the FTC?

Everyone in healthcare knows that the next round of HIPAA audits is coming. Covered entities and business associates have long been advised to review and update their HIPAA security risk analyses, have business associate...more

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