Washington Update

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Releases Model HIPPA Privacy Notices

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On September 13, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released several variations of a model Notice of Privacy Practices for use by health care providers and health plans to communicate with their patients and plan members. The new model notices facilitate compliance with a portion of the Omnibus Final Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA). The Omnibus Rule was released in January of this year and its requirements went into effect on September 23, 2013.

Under the Omnibus Rule, individuals have a fundamental right to be informed of the privacy practices of health plans and health care providers, as well as to be informed of their privacy rights with respect to their personal health information. Health plans and covered health care providers are required to develop and distribute a notice that provides a clear, user-friendly explanation of these rights and practices.

According to HHS, many entities have asked for additional guidance on how to create a clear, accessible notice that their patients or plan members can understand. In response, the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology have provided separate models for health plans and health care providers. The three options for the notice are:

  1. A layered notice that presents a summary of the information on the first page, followed by the full content on the following pages;
  2. A notice with the design elements found in the booklet, but formatted for full page presentation; and
  3. A text-only version of the notice.
To obtain additional information on the Privacy Rule, please click here.

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