Omnibus HIPAA rule lays out 'sweeping changes'

Share this article:

The Department of Health and Human Services issued an “omnibus” rule Thursday, comprehensively updating Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy and security regulations passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The 563-page rule is wide-ranging. Among its notable provisions, it expands direct liability for breaches to contractors, subcontractors and other “business associates” of healthcare providers, plans and insurers, according to an HHS announcement. It also defines noncompliance penalties, which vary depending on level of negligence and are capped at $1.5 million per violation.

The rule expands patient rights in a variety of ways, such as by improving access to electronic versions of health records and giving patients the right to limit disclosure of treatments paid for out-of-pocket.

“This final omnibus rule marks the most sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules since they were first implemented,” said HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez. “These changes not only greatly enhance a patient's privacy rights and protections, but also strengthen the ability of my office to vigorously enforce the HIPAA privacy and security protections, regardless of whether the information is being held by a health plan, a health care provider, or one of their business associates.”

HHS recently issued its first-ever HIPAA fine for a breach of health information for less than 500 people.

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 25.

Share this article:

More in News

'Minor' issues at the nursing home can cause disastrous care transitions, expert warns

'Minor' issues at the nursing home can cause ...

What may appear to be minor administrative problems in a nursing home - a fax machine locked away at night or no one designated to copy paperwork - can cause ...

Long-term care facilities approach 80% worker flu vaccination rate after handing power ...

Fourteen long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania dramatically increased their staff flu vaccination rate by having a regional pharmacy take over the process, according to a report issued Thursday by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHQR).

RACs were 'most improved' healthcare auditors for getting back money in 2013, ...

Medicare Recovery Audit Contractors dramatically stepped up their overpayment recoveries last year, returning nearly $487 million more to the government than they did in 2012, according to a new report from a federal watchdog agency.