Sunday, November 01, 2009

HHS issues an interim final rule on HIPAA enforcement

On October 30th the US Department of Health & Human Services issued a interim final rule to strengthen the enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This was necessary due to the The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which modified the HHS Secretary’s authority to impose civil money penalties for violations of the HIPAA act occurring after Feb. 18, 2009. These HITECH Act revisions significantly increase the penalty amounts the Secretary may impose for violations of the HIPAA rules and encourage prompt corrective action.

Prior to the HITECH Act, HHS could not impose penalties of more than $100 for each violation or $25,000 for all identical violations. A covered health care provider, health plan or clearinghouse could also bar the Secretary’s imposition of a civil money penalty by demonstrating that it did not know that it violated the HIPAA rules. Section 13410(d) of the HITECH Act strengthened the civil money penalty scheme by establishing tiered ranges of increasing minimum penalty amounts, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million for all violations of an identical provision. A covered entity can no longer bar the imposition of a civil money penalty for an unknown violation unless it corrects the violation within 30 days of discovery.

Do you have checks in place that ensure you are in compliance? It is common practice and required by NIST SP 800-66 to actually have regular checks in place.

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Read more:
HHS announcement

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