Making changes to the HIPAA Rules is not frequent, therefore whenever there is a proposition for updates, a range of new specifications and updates to existing terms is commonly included. Before undertaking any updates, a request for information (RFI) is issued so that the HHS can obtain feedback on parts of the HIPAA Regulations that are producing problems and parts that should be improved.
After having the RFI, a notice of proposed rulemaking is released by the HHS, then follows the comment period. During this period, patients, their families, and industry stakeholders get the final chance for to express their views concerning the suggested modifications before it is approved.
The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights released an RFI and published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on December 10, 2020. The typical 60-day comment period started on January 21, 2021, the date of publishing the proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register. March 22, 2021 is the last day of the comment period.
Since the proposed modifications comprise revisions to the HIPAA Privacy Rule that will impact nearly all people in the healthcare industry, the HHS extended the comment period.
The suggested Privacy Rule modifications comprise of strengthening patient rights to obtain quick access to their medical records, adjustments to allow more family and caregiver involvement in the treatment of people while in medical and emergency crises, adjustments to give more versatility for disclosures in the event of emergency situations, updates to reduce the management load on healthcare firms, and changes to improve data sharing for better coordination of patient care and case management.
The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights is asking all stakeholders to read the planned improvements and provide their feedback. All feedback acquired will be reasonably considered for the final rule which is believed to be published at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.
OCR is trying to get a high degree of public interest in providing comments on the proposals because the HIPAA Privacy Rule affects almost all people who need the health care program. Since the comment period 45-day extension changes the last date to May 6, 2021, the public has more opportunity to examine the proposals and give their responses to improve the future policy.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule Proposed Changes are accessible on this webpage.