Thursday, July 29, 2010

HHS Strengthens Health Information Privacy and Security through New Rules

“To improve the health of individuals and communities, health information must be available to those making critical decisions, including individuals and their caregivers. While health information technology will help America move its health care system forward, the privacy and security of personal health data is at the core of all our work.”

--U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

On July 8, Secretary Sebelius announced important new rules to strengthen the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), improve the privacy of health information and help all Americans understand their rights and the resources available to safeguard their personal health data.

In short, the proposed rule would strengthen and expand enforcement by:
  • Expanding individuals’ rights to access their information and to restrict certain types of disclosures of protected health information to health plans;
  • Requiring business associates of HIPAA-covered entities to be under most of the same rules as the covered entities;
  • Setting new limitations on the use and disclosure of protected health information for marketing and fundraising; and
  • Prohibiting the sale of protected health information without patient authorization.
“The benefits of health IT can only be fully realized if patients and providers are confident that electronic health information is kept private and secure at all times,” said Georgina Verdugo, Office for Civil Rights director at HHS. “This proposed rule strengthens the privacy and security of health information, and is an integral piece of the administration’s efforts to broaden the use of health information technology in health care today.”

In addition, HHS also launched a privacy website to help visitors easily access information about existing HHS privacy efforts and the policies supporting them. The site emphasizes the deep commitment to privacy in the collection, use and exchange of personally identifiable information. This new resource provides Americans with confidence that their personal information is secure and underscores HHS’ goal of greater openness and transparency in government.

For more information about the new rule, click HERE.

For other HHS Recovery Act programs, click HERE.

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