Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stimulus Bill Could Be the Beginning Of a New Day in Healthcare

In addition to the 147.7 billion of stimulus monies that will go toward revamping healthcare there are some exciting adjustments regarding patient privacy. In August of 2001 the Bush Administration amended the HIPAA Privacy Rule, allowing business and medical professionals to share patient medical records, without the consent of the patient, in routine medical procedures. This eventually opened the door to companies that previously did not have access.

Companies like Ingenix who is owned by the UnitedHealth Group, recently settled a $50million suit with the New York Attorney general, made billions off selling patient prescription profiles to insurance companies. The scandal has reverberated within the medical community.

Based on the provided information insurance companies could refuse coverage. The new protections in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) require that inadvertent or unintentional breaches are exempt from reporting requirements only if there is no possibility that the PHI was later disclosed or misused.

So, at last Americans have a strong federal right to be notified if the privacy of their health information is breached. It is imperative that those who have access to our professional health information be held accountable for its use. Here are some important requirements to increase protection of patient health information.

1.) Prohibits the sale of medical records without consent.

2.) Adds strong new limits on the use of PHI for marketing

3.) Requires any covered entity or business associate using an EHR to keep an audit trail of all people and organizations who access a patients PHI and with whom they share a patient’s information for 3 years.

4.) Requires data encryption

5.) Increases monetary penalties for violations

6.) Grants funds for non-profits to participate in the regulatory process.
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