Healthcare de Jure Debuts on Air Monday May 9
Dropping HIPAA Insights: Audits Will Not Result In Fines
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By Matt Fisher, Esq, Host of Healthcare de Jure
The first Healthcare De Jure show was recorded on Tuesday, April 26th with Deven McGraw, Deputy Director for Health Information Privacy at the HHS Office for Civil Rights, as the first guest. The discussion with Deputy Director McGraw covered many aspects of HIPAA, with a particular focus on the Privacy Rule and the newly started second round of audits.
Deputy Director McGraw let drop a particular interesting revelation about the HIPAA audits. She indicated that the audits will primarily be used by OCR to better understand the issues that challenge covered entities and business associates. This understanding in turn will be used by OCR to prepare and distribute better guidance. The description sounded like the audits would be an information gathering tool as opposed to a means of finding deficiencies and imposing fines.
Given that backdrop, Deputy Director McGraw was asked if OCR would impose fines and/or penalties based upon findings from the audits. The response was almost a complete and flat out no. Deputy Director McGraw, echoing the previously described sentiments, stated that no fines would be issued. She explained that fines result from an entity going through a compliance review, which is a separate bucket than the audits. The audits are for discovery and informational purposes. As such, Deputy Director McGraw suggested that fines generally will not be issued. However, if an entity is found to be egregiously ignoring HIPAA obligations or otherwise engaging in excessively improper conduct, then those entities will be kicked over into a compliance review and probably subject to fines.
Learning that the new audit protocol will not typically result in fines for covered entities or business associates is an important piece of information. While all entities should still push ahead in ensuring that all necessary policies and procedures are in place, knowing that fines are not on the immediate horizon offers some level of comfort.
The information provided by Deputy Director McGraw was an excellent start to the new Healthcare De Jure series. Be sure to join us as we record shows twice a month to discuss hot topics in healthcare. Each show will bring a new topic and cover new ground. I look forward to exploring the incredible diversity of healthcare with all of you.