In December 2018, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released a request for information, asking HIPAA covered companies for comments on components of the HIPAA Rules that are unduly burdensome or obstruct healthcare delivery, as well as areas where HIPAA modifications should be made to improve care coordination and data sharing.
The comment period ended on February 11, 2019. After reviewing the replies, OCR released a notice of proposed regulation on December 10, 2020, which included numerous new requirements.
OCR was looking into changing aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule that are impeding the transition to value-based healthcare, as well as areas where present Privacy Rule regulations hinder or discourage coordinated care.
HIPAA reforms include relaxing restrictions on PHI disclosures that require patient authorizations, as well as other HIPAA improvements aimed at strengthening patient rights to access their own PHI. The obligation to make the sharing of ePHI with other providers mandatory has drawn some criticism.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have both raised doubts about mandated healthcare data sharing, as well as another proposed change that would reduce the time it takes to reply to patient requests for copies of their medical records.
HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan previously stated that complaints have been received that certain aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule are preventing patients and their families from receiving the care they require, and that modifications are required to aid in the fight against the country’s current opioid crisis. Changes to HIPAA have also been recommended in order to minimize the administrative load on healthcare providers.
In February, the public comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will close. After considering the comments, the OCR will release a final rule, which could see HIPAA amendments adopted as early as 2021.
The comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking comes to an end in February. OCR will then consider the comments and will issue a final rule, which may see HIPAA changes implemented in 2021.