Everyone has been watching and waiting this year to hear if there will be any new HIPAA regulations in 2019. Yet time keeps ticking and there has been no news about it. Let’s delve into what HIPAA changes are on the table, if any will go through before the New Year, and what both doctors and patients should keep an eye out for in 2020.
Is there a possibility of new HIPAA regulations in 2019?
With only a few days left in the year, it seems that another year will pass without any changes to HIPAA regulations in 2019. The Office of Civil Rights, or the OCR, proposed two new regulations in 2018 that never went through. Some people were hoping that the regulations would see movement in 2019. However, they appear to still be at a standstill. The first of the proposed changes is related to how HIPAA protects substance abuse and mental health information. As it currently stands, substance abuse and mental health patients are struggling to get the help that they need. The second change OCR suggested is to make it easier for doctors to coordinate and deliver care at an affordable cost while improving the way they coordinate care with hospitals.
Why does it take so long to change HIPAA regulations?
The process to change HIPAA regulations is a lengthy one. For starters, once changes are proposed, the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, will usually seek feedback from doctors and patients. Once they consider months’ worth of feedback, they give HIPAA-covered entities time to comply with the new regulations before they actually become enforced. According to an article in the HIPAA journal, there have been no new HIPAA regulations in 2019 or five years prior to this year.
Why do people want new HIPAA regulations in 2019?
People hoped for new HIPAA regulations in 2019 because some current regulations are so restrictive that they actually become a burden to both doctors and patients and make it harder for them to coordinate care. Patients aren’t receiving the care they need, and physicians are unable to provide the care that they want to. Although HIPAA was intended to protect patients, it seems that sometimes it protects them a little too much.
What Can We Expect in 2020?
In 2018, enforcement of HIPAA regulations was at an all-time high and that trend will continue in 2019 and 2020. In fact, some speculate that it could even increase. Hopefully in 2020 we’ll see some movement in those proposed regulations from 2018. It appears that the feedback or comment period closed as of February 2019, yet there’s been no conversation since about what the HHS concluded.
Another interesting thing to keep an eye on in the new year is a case between Ascension health system and Google. This is a case where Ascension allegedly gave Google access to millions of patients’ detailed records without the patients or the physicians knowing about it. As a result of this incident, legislators recently proposed to stop the sale of health data. It should be interesting to see how that turns out in 2020.
New HIPAA regulations in 2019: A summary
To summarize all the information we covered above, here’s what you need to know about new HIPAA regulations in 2019:
- To date, there are no new HIPAA regulations in 2019
- HIPAA regulation changes require a long, formal process
- Some feel that HIPAA needs regulation changes because it is complicating patient access to healthcare
- There will likely be some action in regards to HIPAA regulations in 2020
What are your thoughts on the lack of new HIPAA regulations in 2019 and the approval process to make changes? Leave your ideas and opinions in the comments below!