HHS pitches changes to HIPAA

December 14, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds

The changes are intended to remove barriers to coordinated care and reduce regulatory burden.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

According to a news release, the changes seeks to support patients’ engagement in their care, remove barriers to coordinated care, and reduce regulatory burden as part of HHS’ Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care.

The proposed changes would strengthen individuals’ right to access their health information, improve information sharing for care coordination and case management, facilitate greater family and caregiver involvement, enhance flexibilities for disclosure in emergency or threatening circumstances, and reduce administrative burdens for physicians and insurers, the release says.

“Our proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule will break down barriers that have stood in the way of commonsense care coordination and value-based arrangements for far too long,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar says in the release. “As part of our broader efforts to reform regulations that impede care coordination, these proposed reforms will reduce burdens on providers and empower patients and their families to secure better health.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available here. Public comments on it will be due 60 days avers its publication in the Federal Register, the release says.

“Today’s announcement is a continuation of our ongoing work under my Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care to eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers blocking patients from getting better care,” HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan says in the release. “These proposed changes reduce burden on providers and support new ways for them to innovate and coordinate care on behalf of patients, while ensuring that we uphold HIPAA’s promise of privacy and security.”