HIPAA Final Rules More Expansive Than Proposed Standards
The Washington Business Journal reports on the future of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, with some calling the final rules passed by the Clinton administration "stricter and more expansive than the proposed standards." Under HIPAA, providers and insurers must take several measures to protect the privacy of electronic patient records, and they must "give individuals the right to review their medical records and know who else has had access to them" (Silva, Washington Business Journal, 1/30). In addition, HIPAA specifies that anyone holding or transmitting medical information must employ a standard format for claim forms, medical records and laboratory reports. The Business Journal reports that the final rules for HIPAA require written and oral patient records to meet the same "tracking" standards as electronic data. Mark Lutes, a partner with Epstein Becker & Green, said the Bush administration could attempt to undo the final rules, but that is "not likely." He added, "While there are some portions that some want done differently, I don't think the issue will be reopened. It took a while for Congress to reach a consensus the last time." Lutes, like others, questions whether HIPAA's benefits will be worth the cost of compliance. He said, "I think it will be a burden, and the $99 policy question is: Will the cost of the complications of the regulations yield an equivalent benefit in terms of protection (compared) to what already had existed?". One group that stands to profit from HIPAA, the Business Journal reports, is the health care technology industry, as several companies in the Washington, D.C., area are "angling to bankroll on HIPAA standards" (Washington Business Journal, 1/30).