Comment Period on Proposed HIPAA Privacy Rule Changes Extended Until May 6, 2021

HHS 2020 Proposed HIPAA Privacy Rule Updates

On December 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that outlined pending updates to the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The proposed HIPAA Privacy Rule changes were published in the Federal Register on January 21, 2021, and healthcare industry stakeholders were encouraged to review the proposed changes and submit their comments and feedback.

The comment period lasts for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register and the deadline for submitting comments was set as March 22, 2021. However, this week, the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights has announced that the comment period will be extended by 45 days to give the public more time to review the proposed changes and provide their feedback.

Many changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule have been proposed that aim to provide support and remove barriers to coordinated care and information sharing. The proposed changes also strengthen individuals’ rights over their healthcare data.

The proposed modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule address standards that may impede the transition to value-based health care by limiting or discouraging care coordination and case management communications among individuals and covered entities, as well as placing unnecessary burdens on covered entities. The proposed changes will help to ease some of those burdens, while continuing to ensure the privacy and security of individuals health information.

“OCR anticipates a high degree of public interest in providing input on the proposals because the HIPAA Privacy Rule affects nearly anyone who interacts with the health care system,” said Acting OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese.  “The 45-day extension of the comment period to May 6, 2021, will give the public a full opportunity to consider the proposals and submit comments to inform future policy.”

Healthcare industry stakeholders, including patients, their families, HIPAA covered entities, business associates, health care professional associations, health information management professionals, health information technology vendors, and government entities are encouraged to view the proposed HIPAA Privacy Rules changes and submit comments.