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HHS Extends Public Comment Period for Proposed HIPAA Privacy Regulations



Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support, and Remove Barriers to, Coordinated Care and Individual Engagement, 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164, 86 Fed. Reg. 13683 (March 10, 2021)

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HHS has extended the public comment period for proposed HIPAA privacy regulations (see our Checkpoint article) that, among other changes, would modify the individual right to access protected health information (PHI), revise the Notice of Privacy Practices, and clarify health plans’ use and disclosure of PHI for care coordination and case management. The comment period, which was originally scheduled to end on March 22, has been extended to May 6, 2021.

Explaining the rationale for the extension, HHS notes that the proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on January 21, 2021, one day after the White House issued a memorandum instructing agency heads to consider postponing the effective date of items published in the Federal Register but not yet effective as of January 20, 2021. According to HHS, because of the proximity in time between publication of the White House memorandum and the proposed regulations, the public may need clarification regarding the status of the comment period and additional time to comment. HHS indicates that providing the extension will maximize the public’s opportunity to provide meaningful input on the proposal.

EBIA Comment: Changes in presidential administrations are often accompanied by a flurry of administrative actions, and it can be hard to keep track of the status of guidance issued during a transition. This extension, with a reminder of the new due date, will be welcomed by interested parties still working on their comments on the proposed regulations. For more information, see EBIA’s HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security manual at Sections XXVI.B (“Uses and Disclosures for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations”), XXVII.B (“Right to Access PHI in Designated Record Set”), and XXVII.G (“Right to Receive Notice of Privacy Practices”). You may also be interested in our upcoming webinar, “HIPAA in the Pandemic: Implications for Health Plans(live on April 1, 2021).

Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.

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