Government looking to prosecute for HIPAA non-compliance

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The director of civil rights for the Department of Health and Human Services told healthcare attorneys in a Washington D.C. bar briefing that criminal and civil penalties for noncompliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act may be coming. Currently, HHS expects voluntary compliance and informal resolution on the law. Nursing homes, it should be noted, were not on the top five list of providers most named in the complaints.

Richard M. Campanelli said half of the more than 5,000 complaints filed in the first year of the privacy rule have been resolved, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. The rest are pending. Fifty of the remaining complaints have been referred to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution, Campanelli said.

Dianne Faup, an advisor to the Office of HIPAA Standards at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said CMS has received 120 complaints regarding alleged violations of the Transactions and Code Sets rules. Her office is focused on achieving voluntary compliance, she said.