Making changes to the HIPAA Regulations does not happen quite often, thus when there is a proposal for updates, the tendency is to include a variety of new standards and revisions to current terms. Prior to making any updates, a request for information (RFI) is released to let the HHS get feedback on areas of the HIPAA Rules that are creating issues, and parts that need improvements.
Right after the RFI, the HHS issues a notice of proposed rulemaking, which is followed by a comment period. During this comment period, industry stakeholders, such as patients and their households, get the last opportunity to say their thoughts regarding the proposed modifications prior to signing them into law.
After the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights issued an RFI, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published on December 10, 2020. The standard 60-day comment period began from the date, January 21, 2021, when the proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register. The comment period will end on March 22, 2021.
Because the proposed modifications consist of updates to the HIPAA Privacy Rule that is going to affect almost everybody in the healthcare sector, the HHS has decided to give an extension for the comment period.
The proposed Privacy Rule modifications consist of fortifying patient rights to get easy access to their own healthcare records, modifications to support a greater family and caregiver participation in the care of people during health and emergency crises, modifications to provide more flexibility for disclosures during emergency scenarios, updates to minimize the administrative load on healthcare companies, and modifications to enhance data sharing for better care coordination and case administration.
The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights is requesting all stakeholders to go through the proposed modifications and give their comments. All feedback obtained will be properly considered and will be used for the final rule which is estimated to be released in late 2021 or early 2022.
OCR expects a high level of public interest in giving feedback on the proposals since the HIPAA Privacy Rule impacts just about everyone who uses the health care system. With the comment period extended for 45 days until May 6, 2021, the public can have the opportunity to look at the proposals and send feedback to shape the future policy.
You can find the HIPAA Privacy Rule Proposed Modifications on this page.