HHS Says Deadline for HITECH Disclosure Rule is now ‘Fluid’

A controversial “accounting of disclosures” provision of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act will probably not be finalized before the scheduled Jan. 1, 2014, deadline for compliance, according to a senior Department of Health and Human Services official.

Speaking at the Health Care Compliance Association’s annual conference last week, HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez said the compliance deadline for the HITECH rule is now “fluid,” the Bureau of National Affairs reported. The agency is still reviewing the comments it received on the proposed rule; Rodriguez did not say when a final rule might be issued.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, providers have an obligation to give individuals certain information about how their healthcare data has been shared. Once the HITECH provision takes effect, individuals could request a simplified version of the existing HIPAA disclosures as well as an “access report” that would include a wide range of information, including the names of people who had accessed the health records and what actions had been taken, such as any modifications of the records. Under HITECH, providers would have 30 days rather than the current 60 days to respond to a request for information.

The American Health Care Association said the current 60-day timeline should be retained. AHCA also said it would be “impractical” to put together such comprehensive access reports, and described a “common scenario” in which a nursing home resident’s health record includes both paper and electronic information from a hospital, pharmacy, rehabilitation provider, radiology provider and various therapists. The rule should be revised to “eliminate the aggregate access report requirement for LTC providers, or at a minimum include only access reports from the system that the provider maintains and controls,” AHCA stated.

HHS received more than 400 comments after the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register in May 2011, and many of them were sharply critical. Some healthcare providers called for the rule to be scrapped altogether, saying it would be excessively burdensome. Attendees of the recent HCCA conference told Rodriguez they feared disgruntled patients could retaliate against employees named in access reports, according to BNA.

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Retrieved From:
McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living
May 2nd, 2013