I read a recent Forbes.com post by Rick Ungar (“Claims That Obamacare Website Violates Health Privacy Reveals Embarrassing Fact – GOP Does Not Understand HIPAA or Obamacare”) that revealed a truly embarrassing fact: very few of us really understand HIPAA, let alone the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or “Obamacare”) and its interplay… Continue Reading
It is noteworthy that there are often substantial delays in disclosures regarding covered entities (“CEs”) that have become marchers in the Parade of large Protected Health Information (“PHI”) security breaches under HIPAA. This is the case even though the PHI breach notification rule requires that, when a PHI breach affects 500 or more individuals (a… Continue Reading
A party (Party) to a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) or Subcontractor Agreement (SCA), whether a covered entity (CE), business associate (BA) or subcontractor (SC), may struggle with the question as to whether to agree to, demand, request, submit to, negotiate or permit, an indemnification provision (Provision) respecting the counterparty (Counterparty) under a BAA or… Continue Reading
Where did the time go? Today’s the day – September 23, 2013. This is compliance day for most of the Omnibus Rule changes. I had a feeling this deadline would catch up with me faster than I would be able to blog my 10 tips, so I’m going to count “TIP TWO” as tips TWO… Continue Reading
Unless the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) makes another last-minute, litigation-inspired decision to delay the September 23, 2013 compliance date, we’re on a 10-day countdown for compliance with most of the Omnibus Rule requirements. In a motion filed jointly with the plaintiff in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on… Continue Reading
This blog series has been following breaches of Protected Health Information (“PHI”) that have been reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) ever-lengthening parade list (the “HHS List”) of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals (the “List Breaches”). As reported in a previous blog post in this series,… Continue Reading
This blog series has been following breaches of Protected Health Information (“PHI”) that have been reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) ever-lengthening parade list (the “HHS List”) of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals (the “List Breaches”). Previous blog posts in this series discussed here and here… Continue Reading
Elizabeth Litten and Michael Kline write: For the second time in less than 2 ½ years, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (the “FSSA”) has suffered a large breach of protected health information (“PHI”) as the result of actions of a business associate (“BA”). If I’m a resident of Indiana and a client of… Continue Reading
Tamarra Holmes writes: In recent weeks, people all around the world were made aware of a secret U.S. government surveillance program that essentially collects massive amounts of data from the general public through electronic communication providers, such as Facebook, Skype, and Google. The existence of the program, known as PRISM, was leaked by a former National… Continue Reading
In January 2011 this blog series discussed here and here that the University of Rochester Medical Center (“URMC” or the “Medical Center”) became a marcher twice in 2010 in the parade of large Protected Health Information (“PHI”) security breaches. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) publishes a list (the “HHS List”), which… Continue Reading
Under HIPAA, where do we draw the line between a run-of-the-mill, ordinary garden variety “security incident” and a “presumed breach” when it comes to reporting PHI events? How do we describe these types of reporting obligations in business associate agreements?
While the summaries of closed investigations posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals continue to provide highly useful information for covered entities, business associates and subcontractors relative to confronting PHI breaches, large and small, they must be analyzed with appropriate care and attention paid to changes brought about by the recently-published Omnibus Rule.
As of January 1, 2013, there were 525 postings on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals. “Theft” constituted the majority of PHI breach types reported.
A thoughtful reader commented on a recent blog post in this series by highlighting the importance of evaluating the risk of harm by any covered entity that experiences a PHI security breach.
Much has been written about the circumstances surrounding the agreement of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (“MEEI”) to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the sum of $1.5 million to settle potential violations involving an alleged 2010 security breach of PHI under HIPAA. However, relatively little has been written that the 2010 breach was the second of what may be three significant PHI breaches experienced by MEEI within the last three years.
The recent paucity of postings of summaries on the Department of Health and Human Services list of large HIPAA privacy breaches by the federal Office of Civil Rights dampens the educational value that can be derived therefrom by covered entities and business associates.
Employers should limit PHI that they provide with respect to medical examinations of employees and job applicants and in other contexts to the least amount of medical information necessary for evaluation in order to avoid potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act, State workers’ compensation laws and other statutes.
The settlement in the Accretive Health, Inc. PHI breach case provides a good example of how the blurring of the covered entity and business associate roles can backfire on parties that fail to sufficiently analyze and define such roles, not only at the outset of a relationship but throughout its duration and evolution.
The federal Office of Civil Rights deems it necessary for a covered entity (CE) to verify whether a business associate (BA) is also a covered entity with respect to the CE’s protected health information; in turn such CE and BA and their respective counsel should use the verification process to develop provisions in the business associate agreement.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center posted notice on its website of a theft of an unencrypted laptop computer containing data on more than 30,000 patients exactly 59 days after the theft took place.
The recent Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) resolution with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the state Medicaid agency (“Alaska Medicaid”), which includes the payment by Alaska Medicaid to HHS of $1.7 million respecting possible violations of HIPAA, raises questions as to the exacting of payments by HHS from a state agency that funds medical care for the Alaska indigent from taxpayers.
The Department of Health and Human Services list of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals includes focused guidance for covered entities and business associates in the form of brief summaries of the cases that the federal Office of Civil Rights has investigated and closed.
To avoid becoming marchers in the Breach Parade, covered entities and business associates should be aware of tools being used by the federal Office of Civil Rights and State Attorneys General to deter and catch HIPAA privacy and security breaches that may be similar to the red light cameras designed to deter and catch traffic violations.
Within the last week, The Boston Globe has reported that venerable Boston Children’s Hospital, the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, has notified the public media and affected individuals of a large PHI security breach that occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina.