State Court Cases Address Liability for HIPAA Privacy Violations

Several recent state court decisions involving HIPAA privacy violations are raising serious questions regarding liability on behalf of healthcare providers as well as hefty monetary damage awards. While HIPAA itself does not provide a private cause of action for privacy violations, these recent decisions reveal that privacy breaches can form the basis for state law claims brought by patients or customers against healthcare providers. In a recent Connecticut case, Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., the plaintiff… Read More >

HIPAA and Ebola: OCR Issues Bulletin

In light of the recent Ebola outbreak and other recent events, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently released a bulletin to remind providers of the ways in which the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows Protected Health Information (PHI) to be shared in emergency situations. The bulletin serves as a reminder of the following HIPAA permissible uses and disclosures and exceptions:   The bulletin reminds providers that they can always disclose PHI for treatment purposes including consultations and referrals. Public Health… Read More >

CMS Set to Release Comparative Billing Report on Modifier 25: Family Practice

In the November 6, 2014 MLN Connects Provider eNews, CMS announced that it will issue a national provider Comparative Billing Report (CBR) in November 2014 on the use of Modifier 25 by family practice providers. Modifier 25 is used to indicate “significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management (E/M) service by the same physician on the day of a procedure.” The CMS announcement explains that the CBR will “focus on family practice providers and will contain data-driven tables and graphs with… Read More >

OCR Guidance for HIPAA and Same-sex Marriage after United States v. Windsor

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS-OCR) has developed guidance to assist HIPAA covered entities in understanding the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor on HIPAA privacy obligations. The HIPAA Privacy Rule contains several provisions that reference the role that family members, including spouses, play in patient care. In Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, which provided that… Read More >