Health Information Management

TIP: Keep an eye on legislation in new Congress

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 12, 2009

A new administration will soon take office in Washington, DC, and the change may have a significant effect on healthcare and HIPAA.

“The complaint has always been that HIPAA has teeth, but it doesn’t bite,” says John Parmigiani, MS, BES, president of John C. Parmigiani & Associates, LLC, in Ellicott City, MD, and chair of the team that created the HIPAA security rule.

Potential exists for “carrot and stick” incentives to urge providers to transition to electronic health records, says Susan A. Miller, Esq., chief operations officer and chief privacy officer at HealthTransactions.com. Pay-for-performance models that take payment away from providers who don’t move towards an electronic environment also are possible, says Miller.

Parmigiani also believes that federal legislation, which will expand the definition of covered entities to include business associates, is forthcoming.

For example, business associates (BA) working on behalf of covered entities are not required to abide by HIPAA privacy and security standards. The burden has always been on the covered entity to ensure the BA is keeping their information safe, says Parmigiani.

He also sees possible movement in the direction of a national pre-emptive privacy/data protection law that would embody the strongest aspects of data security espoused in the ever-increasing and more stringent state data protection laws.

Editor’s note: These tips were adapted from an article in the January issue of Health Information Compliance Insider. Learn more about the HCPro, Inc., newsletter.

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