U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) laws let providers share certain private information with patient family members and outside groups in emergencies; and now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar confirmed that HHS will undertake an effort to reform federal health privacy rules, stating that “In the coming months, under the leadership of my deputy secretary, Eric Hargan, HHS will be releasing requests for information regarding the Anti-Kickback Statute, HIPAA, and a federal privacy law called 42 CFR Part 2.”
HHS will update new guidance for laws that hinder healthcare providers and delay the healthcare system’s transition to value-based care, Azar told a conservative audience at the Heritage Foundation. News sources reveal that HHS is also looking at the AKS and its intersection with the Stark Law based on feedback from providers who find it “very difficult if not impossible to understand” how to comply with both laws.
A four-agency task force will be working to examine obstacles to coordinate care related to the Stark Law, the AKS, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and rules under 42 CFR Part 2 related to opioid and substance abuse disorder treatment. This task force is composed of CMS, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), the HHS Office of Civil Rights, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to “coordinate amongst themselves to facilitate a coordinated care system” to “reduce duplication, overlap and contradictions” in regulations and “ensure regulatory requirements are aligned.” Eric Hargan, HHS Deputy Secretary, will lead this effort.
According to news reports, the House passed the Overdose Prevention and Safety Act (H.R. 6082 (115)) aiming to enable providers to share behavioral data more freely under 42 CFR Part 2.