Health Information Management

HIPAA and the HITECH Act: Know the level of penalties

HIM-HIPAA Insider, March 16, 2009

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provides a tiered system for assessing the level of each HIPAA privacy violation and, therefore, its penalty:

  • Tier A is for violations in which the offender didn’t realize he or she violated the Act and would have handled the matter differently if he or she had. This results in a $100 fine for each violation, and the total imposed for such violations cannot exceed $25,000 for the calendar year.
  • Tier B is for violations due to reasonable cause, but not “willful neglect.” The result is a $1,000 fine for each violation, and the fines cannot exceed $100,000 for the calendar year.
  • Tier C is for violations due to willful neglect that the organization ultimately corrected. The result is a $10,000 fine for each violation, and the fines cannot exceed $250,000 for the calendar year.
  • Tier D is for violations of willful neglect that the organization did not correct. The result is a $50,000 fine for each violation, and the fines cannot exceed $1,500,000 for the calendar year.

The HITECH Act also allows states’ attorneys general to levy fines and seek attorneys fees from covered entities on behalf of victims. Courts now have the ability to award costs, which they were previously unable to do.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the April 2009 edition of the HCPro, Inc. newsletter, Briefings on HIPAA. If you have a tip, comment, or question about the HIPAA provisions in the HITECH Act, please e-mail it to Dom Nicastro.

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