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ADA comments on agency’s request to modify HIPAA rules

February 19, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is asking the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights to incorporate flexibility and keep processes simple to help dental offices remain HIPAA compliant.

The request was part of the Association’s formal comments to OCR in response to the agency’s Request for Information on Modifying [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] Rules to Improve Coordinated Care.

In a Feb. 12 letter to OCR Director Roger Severino, ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin reminded the director that “many covered entities are small and solo dental practices, and that dental practices use a variety of electronic dental records with varying capabilities and functionalities, not all of which may integrate with hospital electronic health record systems.”

In the letter, Drs. Cole and O’Loughlin urged the “promulgation of simplified, standardized and coordinated regulations” so that dental offices are able to “develop and implement unified requirements for all protected health information regardless of source or content.”

Regarding the OCR’s desire to shorten the timeframe from 30 days for providers to respond to patient requests for access to personal health information, the ADA said it believes that a shorter response time would burden covered entities.

“A small or solo health care provider would be particularly burdened by a shorter time frame, which could divert staff time and attention from clinical tasks and patient care without a corresponding benefit to patients or providers,” Drs. Cole and O’Loughlin noted.

The ADA also asked OCR to facilitate appropriate communications and guidance for providers seeking to assist families in certain health care emergencies — such as parents of children affected by the opioid crisis — without compromising privacy.

In the comments, the Association recommended that OCR eliminate the Notice of Privacy Practice acknowledgment form to “free up time and resources for providers to spend on treatment and care coordination” and to eliminate the requirement to provide a copy of the Notice of Privacy Practices to individuals who do not request a copy. The ADA suggested OCR instead require providers to post the notice in a conspicuous location.

The ADA also urged OCR to protect HIPAA enforcement providers who “in good faith disclose protected health information intended to help patients receive help and support,” whether or not the patient is incapacitated.

Read the comments in full on the ADA’s website here.