If you are annoyed by the constant updating, amending, and general tinkering of HIPAA compliance regulations, then you may have to get used to it. The proposed healthcare reform bill not only contains additional HIPAA provisions but a proposal for periodic updates.
At this moment, the healthcare reform bill has just passed a key Senate committee. Within the 1,000 page document are proposals for regular HIPAA renewals that would allow for biannual reviews of existing HIPAA standards and operation rules, and the ability to make recommendations and updates.
The bill proposes four additional HIPAA transactions for healthcare industries where their data and information must comply with the most current standards and operating rules – health claims, enrollment/disenrollment in plans, health plan premium payments, and referral certification and authorization. The bill would give healthcare industries until 2015 to get compliant in these areas. There is also a list of proposed penalties for those who fail to comply to the HIPAA requirements.
The healthcare industry already had to adjust to HIPAA amendments that were caveats to accepting money in Obama’s economic stimulus bill earlier this year. Those amendments manifested in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act extended HIPAA regulations to business associates and required notification to patients in the event of security breaches. While HITECH provided $31.2 billion for healthcare infrastructure and adoption of electronic health records, it also increased compliance obligations and strengthened enforcement penalties.
The bill basically makes government regulation of healthcare IT regulatory with biannual updates to HIPAA. I’m not sure if more government regulation and compliance is going to improve the quality of healthcare privacy for individuals, but I am sure that many will oppose these changes.
Of course there’s no guarantee the bill will not change drastically as it goes through the House of Representatives on the next leg of its journey. And, even then, it may or may not be passed by Congress and signed by Obama.