HHS Proposes Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule as Part of the Continued Effort to Improve Patient Care and Eliminate Unnecessary Regulatory Barriers

On December 10th, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to support individuals' engagement in their care, remove barriers to coordinated care, and reduce regulatory burdens on the health care industry.

"Our proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule will break down barriers that have stood in the way of commonsense care coordination and value-based arrangements for far too long," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "As part of our broader efforts to reform regulations that impede care coordination, these proposed reforms will reduce burdens on providers and empower patients and their families to secure better health."

The proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule include:

  • Strengthening individuals' rights to access their own health information, including electronic information;

  • Improving information sharing for care coordination and case management for individuals;

  • Facilitating greater family and caregiver involvement in the care of individuals experiencing emergencies or health crises;

  • Enhancing flexibilities for disclosures in an emergency or threatening circumstances, such as the Opioid and COVID-19 public health emergencies; and

  • Reducing administrative burdens on HIPAA-covered health care providers and health plans, while continuing to protect individuals' health information privacy interests.

Summary of Provisions in Proposed Modification to the HIPAA Privacy Rule

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