Office of Civil Rights

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Health care providers, health plans, business associates, and other entities affected by the federal HIPAA privacy and security regulations are quickly running out of excuses for not having a robust HIPAA compliance program...more

OCR Releases Information on What Phase 2 HIPAA Audits Will Look Like

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently presented information about the new look of its Phase 2 audit program. The new audits will look little like the old ones, with OCR conducting the audits itself and focusing on...more

Future OCR Audits Have Little in Common With Previous Round—Here’s How to Prepare

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently presented information about the new look of its Phase 2 audit program. The new audits will look little like the old ones, with OCR conducting the audits itself and focusing on...more

Potential Institutional Liability to the Accused in Sexual Assault Cases

Recent articles and postings not only highlight the continuing focus on sexual assault cases on college campuses by the victims of those assaults, but also on the threat of litigation by those accused of the assaults. In the...more

New Round of HIPAA Audits To Begin Later This Year

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced it will resume its HIPAA compliance audit program — launched as a pilot program in 2012 — on a permanent basis in 2014. In...more

Hot Off the Press: Tool to Help Providers Conduct Security Risk Assessments

What’s Happening? The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in collaboration with the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), recently released a jointly developed tool designed to assist...more

HIPAA Security Risk Assessment Tool Released by HHS

HIPAA security risk assessment (SRA) tool was recently made available through HHS. The tool was developed as a collaborative effort between the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC),...more

OCR Clarifies Permitted Disclosures, Including Mental Health Care

The disclosure of mental health records and other disclosure-related issues tends to be less than clear for providers in their efforts to comply with the federal privacy rules. Such issues relate to appropriate disclosures to...more

Separate and Unequal

Unlike people, not all schools are created equal. Anyone who doubts that need only review the results of the Civil Rights Data Collection [“CRDC”] for the 2011-2012 school year, which were released on March 21, 2014 by...more

OCR to Resume HIPAA Audits. Get Ready Now!

In a Feb. 24 notice in the Federal Register, the HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its intention to resume its HIPAA Audit Program. By and large, the audit program has been inactive since December 2012, when OCR...more

Compliance is No Joke: OCR Releases Security Risk Assessment Tool

On March 28, 2014, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced the release of an online and iPad app-based security risk assessment (SRA) tool. The tool is intended to help health care providers in small to medium sized...more

HHS's New Security Risk Tool for HIPAA Compliance

On March 28, 2014, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in conjunction with the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), released a Security Risk Assessment tool (SRA tool) to assist...more

Government Releases New Tool to Assist with HIPAA Security Rule Risk Assessments

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), in collaboration with the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC), released a new security risk assessment (SRA)...more

OCR Preparing For Next Round of HIPAA Audits

In a February 24, 2014 notice published in the Federal Register, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a pre-audit survey of HIPAA covered entities and business associates. The information collected will...more

Get Ready! HHS OCR Announces Next Round of HIPAA Audits

To combat new risks associated with rapidly evolving health information technology, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act...more

Health Care Law Alert: Skagit County Fined $215,000 for HIPAA Violations

Skagit County in northwest Washington state has been fined $215,000 for violations of the HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rules. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights...more

OCR Settles Potential HIPAA Violations with County Government for $215,000

To start 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its first resolution agreement of the year and its first settlement with a county government – signaling that even local...more

HIPAA Housekeeping - Don't Forget Your Annual Report of Small Breaches

If you are a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") and suffer a breach of protected health information, one of your first reactions should be to count the number of affected...more

HHS Extends Patient Access To Laboratories

On February 6, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Final Rule amending regulations implementing the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and the Health Insurance...more

En Español: HHS Agencies Issue Model Notices of Privacy Practices in Spanish

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued model Notices of Privacy Practices (NPPs) in...more

Dear Colleague Letter Urges Districts to Abandon “Zero Tolerance” in Student Discipline Policies

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice recently released a joint “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) providing guidance on administering...more

Dear Colleague Letter Firmly Urges Districts to Abandon “Zero Tolerance” in Student Discipline Policies

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice recently released a joint “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) providing guidance on administering...more

OCR Clarifies Dear Colleague Letter On Students With Disabilities In Extracurricular Athletics

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently replied to a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) seeking clarification on OCR’s January 25, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter on students...more

CMS Finalizes HIPAA and CLIA Amendments Intended to Increase Patient Access to Test Results

Yesterday the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finally published the long-awaited final rule amending the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and the Health Insurance Portability and...more

President Obama Announces White House Task Force On Protecting Students From Sexual Assault

On January 22, 2014, President Obama announced the creation of a White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault (Task Force). The President’s announcement was accompanied by a report issued by the White...more

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