AHA Slams Proposed HIPAA Data Disclosure Rule

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The American Hospital Association (AHA) has sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), slamming a proposed HIPAA rule that would allow patients to request reports that identify any party or entity that accesses their electronic health records.

Addressed to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the letter urges federal regulators to “significantly alter” their approach in the HIPAA Privacy Rule Accounting of Disclosures under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The proposed rule, which covers both uses and disclosures of medical records, was published in the Federal Register on May 31.

In addition to being “misguided”, the letter alleges, the proposal “does not appropriately balance the relevant privacy interests of individuals with the burdens that will be imposed on covered entities, including hospitals.” It is, the society says, instead based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the value to individuals of receiving the particular information that the access report would capture, as well as about the capabilities of technologies available to and used by covered entities.

Rather than moving ahead with the proposal, AHA believes the OCR should first attempt to uncover more information from the industry in order to determine “the needs of patients who seek to understand how their PHI is disclosed, while simultaneously ensuring that covered entities are technically capable of providing such information without incurring unreasonable burdens to do so.” Among other recommendations, it urges that the discussion of designated record sets, as stated in the proposed rule, be clarified, and that proposed exclusions to the accounting requirement and maintain existing exclusions be adopted.

AHA’s letter represents its official comment to OCR regarding the proposed rule; the comment period ended last Monday.After OCR considers the comments, it is expected to issue a final rule.

Click here for a link to download the letter: http://www.ahanews.com/ahanews_app/jsp/display.jsp?dcrpath=AHANEWS/AHANe...