Month: January 2017

News Brief: How to Share ePHI for Public Health Purposes

On December 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a fact sheet confirming that health care providers can electronically share protected health information (PHI) with public health agencies without fear of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The HIPAA Privacy Rule permits entities covered by the Act to disclose and use PHI for certain public health activities without first obtaining each patient’s authorization, a rule saving both time and administrative costs. This fact sheet...

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News Brief: CMS Focuses on Limited-English Proficiency Patients and Patients with Disabilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began its “Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare” in 2015 emphasizing six priority areas for reducing health care disparities in the Medicare program. Two of the priority areas were increasing physical accessibility of health care facilities and improving communication and language access for Limited-English Proficiency (LEP) patients and patients with disabilities. Eight percent of today’s Medicare beneficiaries are LEP patients and almost 15% have hearing impairments that may hinder effective communication with their health care providers. CMS is now using information gathered during year one of the Equity Plan to...

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News Brief: Health Care Industry Runs Up $2.5 Billion in False Claims Act Collections

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it recouped of $4.7 billion in False Claims Act (FCA) settlements and judgments in 2016. With $2.5 billion of that total traceable to the health care industry, this marks the seventh consecutive year in which health care industry FCA recoveries have surpassed $2 billion. FCA recoveries have surged in the past decade, with 2016 having the third highest total during that time. The DOJ chalked up the 2016 collections as a win for all Americans. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, who leads the DOJ Civil Division, said: “The...

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