HIPAA audits unlikely to change under new administration

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Providers are unlikely to see any major changes to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act audits under the Department of Health and Human Services' new civil rights director, some experts predicted last week.

Roger Severino, who was recently installed as the director of HHS' Office of Civil Rights, is expected to keep up the agency's current level of HIPAA audits, Eric Fader, an attorney for Day Pitney LLP, told Bloomberg BNA.

W. Reece Hirsch, an attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, also predicted little change to OCR's HIPAA enforcement activities, since 2016 “was a record year for HIPAA enforcement actions and settlements.”

Hirsch also told Bloomberg that it's still uncertain how the new administration's stance on rolling back regulations will impact HIPAA audits.

“Lessening regulation in the privacy and cybersecurity areas has not been an area that's been addressed thus far in public statements or actions by the new administration,” Hirsch said.

Severino previously worked as the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, as well as a trial attorney for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. That civil rights focus is similar to that of Severino's predecessor, Jocelyn Samuels, leading attorney Kirk Nahra, with Wiley Rein, to believe he'll maintain her stance on enforcement.

“There's no particular reason to think that he will change the enforcement process or approach in any material way, unless there are major budget cuts that lessen the staff,” Nahra told Bloomberg.