On March 9, 2021 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 45-day extension of the public comment period for the proposed modifications to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy rule. The public comment period has been extended from March 22, 2021, to May 6, 2021 in order to give the public more time to fully consider the proposed changes.
OCR first announced the proposed rule making on December 10, 2020. The proposed changes to HIPAA are part of the larger transition to a value-based health care system in which providers are compensated based on patient health outcomes. The modifications propose to address standards that may impede the transition to a value-based health care system and other unnecessary burdens by increasing individuals’ rights to access their health information, enhancing information sharing for care coordination and case management, improving family and caregiver involvement for individuals experiencing health emergencies, reducing the administrative burden on HIPAA-covered providers, and facilitating the disclosure of certain health information during emergencies such as the opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. Other major provisions include:
- Defining the terms electronic health record (EHR) and personal health application