Tricia L. Hoffman-Simanek, Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C.

Tricia Hoffman-Simanek, attorney and senior vice president at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has called for public input on improving care coordination and reducing the regulatory burdens of the HIPAA Rules. The deadline for such input is expiring on February 12th. OCR wants input on ways to modify the HIPAA rules to remove regulatory obstacles and decrease regulatory burdens while preserving privacy and security of patient’s protected health information.

There is still time for health care providers, clinics, facilities/entities/organizations to submit any input electronically by using the following link: http://www.regulations.gov and searching for the Docket ID number HHS-OCR-0945-AA00.

An excerpt from the HHS press release states:

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the public on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rules, especially the HIPAA Privacy Rule, could be modified to further the HHS Secretary’s goal of promoting coordinated, value-based healthcare. This RFI is a part of the Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, an initiative led by Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan.

And continues:

HHS developed the HIPAA Rules to protect individuals’ health information privacy and security interests, while permitting information sharing needed for important purposes. However, in recent years, OCR has heard calls to revisit aspects of the Rules that may limit or discourage information sharing needed for coordinated care or to facilitate the transformation to value-based health care. The RFI requests information on any provisions of the HIPAA Rules that may present obstacles to these goals without meaningfully contributing to the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) and/or patients’ ability to exercise their rights with respect to their PHI.

In addition to requesting broad input on the HIPAA Rules, the RFI also seeks comments on specific areas of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, including:

  • Encouraging information-sharing for treatment and care coordination
  • Facilitating parental involvement in care
  • Addressing the opioid crisis and serious mental illness
  • Accounting for disclosures of PHI for treatment, payment, and health care operations as required by the HITECH Act
  • Changing the current requirement for certain providers to make a good faith effort to obtain an acknowledgment of receipt of the Notice of Privacy Practices

The request for information (RFI) may be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=HHS-OCR-2018-0028-0001.

Tricia L. Hoffman-Simanek
Tricia Hoffman-Simanek is an Attorney and Senior Vice President at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C. Her legal work focuses on the area of litigation, which includes but is not limited to, professional malpractice, long term care litigation, insurance defense, and other health law litigation.