Health Information Management

Strengthening the business associate relationship

Briefings on HIPAA, September 1, 2015

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HIPAA originally recognized the business associate (BA) as a contractor of a covered entity (CE), but did not mandate direct accountability to the regulations. This put the onus on a CE to ensure, contractually, that its BAs met applicable requirements and supported their CE clients' compliance. When the Privacy and Security Rules first became effective, many CEs accepted BA contracts (BAC) (sometimes also called BA agreements [BAA]) from their BAs. Some BAs were actually quite adamant about having the CE sign their BAC. Although it was the obligation of a CE to initiated the BAC and the CE was liable under the law for compliance, in most cases, BAs offered a BAC that met the legal requirements and often looked like the model offered by HHS. If this was not the case or if either party wanted additional provisions, the CE and the BA negotiated a contract. No provisions required by HIPAA could be removed or changed, but other provisions could be added.

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