We have seen substantial delay in publication of the long-awaited HIPAA/HITECH Omnibus Final Rule, sometimes affectionately referred to as the “Mega Rule.” Health Data Management reported on June 6 of this year that Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health information technology, had said that the HIPAA Mega rule, which will include modifications to the privacy and security rule, breach notification and enforcement, “should’ be published by “the end of summer.” After previous disappointments and delays in regulations in other contexts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, however, it may be noteworthy that Mr. Mostashari was said to have used the word “should,” and did not specify the summer of what year, e.g., 2012, 2013, 2014, etc.
Now there has been some scuttlebutt that the Mega Rule may not surface until after Election Day, November 6, 2012, perhaps because of concerns about potential political implications. Even as we wait, there is some justifiable trepidation as to the number of pages of regulations that will be published. The recently-issued CMS final requirements that hospitals and other providers must meet to receive funding under the second phase of the federal electronic health-record incentive program, which is a relatively narrow topic, constituted 672 pages.
What can we expect from HHS on the Mega Rule? Well, we can register our own speculations. Marla Durben Hirsch, Editor of Medical Practice Compliance Alert published by DecisionHealth, Inc., informed me of a clever contest that is being conducted on line by idexperts as to the Mega Rule. Any household can put in a single entry as to the month, day and year that the Mega Rule will be published in the Federal Register. In the event of a tie, the number of pages in the Mega Rule will serve as a first tie breaker. The prize for first place is a contribution of $2,500 in the name of the winner to the Wounded Warrior Project, a $200 Amazon gift card, a year’s subscription to RADAR published by idexperts and, of course, internet bragging rights.
So, with the approach of Labor Day and the waning days of summer, join the contest and make the Mega Rule wait more enjoyable!