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December 15, 2020

15 December 2020

HHS Issues Proposed Rule Modernizing HIPAA Privacy Rule

On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released a proposed rule (the Proposed Rule) that would make a number of key changes to the Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (collectively, HIPAA).  HHS stated that the Proposed Rule is intended to reduce burdens that may limit or discourage care coordination and case management communications among individuals and HIPAA-covered entities while continuing to protect the privacy of individuals.  The proposed changes are designed to lead to increased data access, sharing, and portability and to further HHS’s emphasis on patients’ right of information access, which has been highlighted through a series of enforcement actions in 2020.  If enacted as proposed, the amendments would require healthcare providers and electronic health records (EHR) vendors to update policies and disclosures related to information access and perhaps even to redesign certain EHR processes.  Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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