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Increased Scrutiny Over HIPAA Compliance Ahead

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), passed by Congress in 1996, continues to have a considerable effect on the healthcare industry. Along with increasing rules to strengthen the protection of patient information in a digital environment, penalties are being assessed for HIPAA noncompliance. A recent HIPAA noncompliance penalty and settlement involved Idaho State University. The University agreed to pay $400,000 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a result of a firewall that failed to protect health information at a University clinic. The breach went undetected for more than 10 months and exposed 17,500 patient records. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing compliance with HIPAA. During 2012, OCR conducted 115 random HIPAA privacy and security compliance audits of providers, payors and claims clearinghouses. As a result of these and other audits, OCR has collected $15.3 million in HIPAA violations and settlements. In addition, HIPAA compliance audits will become an annual process beginning in fiscal year 2014. New HIPAA Rules and Deadlines The HIPAA Omnibus rules, passed in January 2013 by HHS, mandate additional compliance requirements that will be enforced beginning in September 2013. The new laws more extensively hold second and third party businesses responsible to keep patient health information private. Action steps that should be performed in preparation for the new rules include: Conduct a HIPAA Security Rule risk assessment Review business associate agreements and update them based on the new rules (example: include language in the business associate agreement on potential liabilities to HHS) Revise and update policies and procedures to reflect the latest HIPAA rules Conduct HIPAA training on the updated policies Educate subcontractor business associates about their responsibility (and the responsibility of their subcontractors) to safeguard health information in order to mitigate the risk of a breach of confidential information For more information on any of the above topics or other matters involving HIPAA, please contact Christopher J. McCarthy at, Keith Solomon at or Thomas J. DeMayo at

Christopher J. McCarthy Partner 914.341.7018

Keith Solomon Partner 914.341.7078

Thomas DeMayo IT Manager 212.867.8000

Contact: New York, NY (midtown) 212.286.2600 New York, NY (downtown) 212.867.8000 Harrison, NY 914.381.8900 Stamford, CT 203.323.2400 Paramus, NJ 201.712.9800 New Windsor, NY 845.220.2400 Wethersfield, CT 860.257.1870

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