With so much focus on health care reform, it may be easy to forget that other laws affecting health care and health benefits are undergoing significant changes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reminded us about some of these rules by issuing proposed regulations on how various changes included in the HITECH legislation (which was part of the economic stimulus package enacted last year) affect HIPAA's requirements. For background on HITECH, click here

 

The proposed regulations address a number of the new rules affecting privacy and security requirements, including matters such as certain individual rights, the notice of privacy practices, marketing, and fundraising. The regulations offer particular guidance on how the new rules affect business associates, requiring, for example, that a business associate enter into a business associate agreement with any of its subcontractors that obtain protected health information (PHI) in performing their subcontracted duties. Such subcontractors would be regarded as business associates and would be directly subject to many of HIPAA's rules. The proposed regulations also address the enforcement rules under HIPAA, including the investigation of violations and the imposition of penalties.

 

The proposed regulations will not take effect until they are issued in final form. HHS recognizes that those subject to HIPAA will face difficulties in complying with the requirements even then, and expects to provide covered entities and business associates at least 180 days to comply with the relevant HITECH requirements after final regulations are published and to allow a more extended period for modifying existing business associate agreements.

 

If you have any questions on how the proposed regulations may affect your operation, please contact Jean C. Hemphill, 215.864.8539 or hemphill@ballardspahr.com; Edward I. Leeds, 215.864.8419 or leeds@ballardspahr.com; or any other member of Ballard Spahr's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group.


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

Copyright © 2010 by Ballard Spahr LLP.(No claim to original U.S. government material.)