AHIMA Voices HIPAA Modification Concerns

Restricting Insurers' Access to Certain Information Called Costly
AHIMA Voices HIPAA Modification Concerns
A federal proposal that would enable patients to restrict certain information held by their healthcare providers from being shared with their insurer would prove too costly and impractical to carry out, the American Health Information Management Association says.

The provision was included in a proposal to modify the HIPAA privacy, security and enforcement rules, as called for under the HITECH Act. The proposed HIPAA modification rule would enable individuals to obtain restrictions on certain disclosures of information to health plans if they pay out of pocket for the services involved.

Many AHIMA members have expressed "significant concerns regarding the ability of a provider to accept the restriction and their ability to accurately meet the requirements of this right," according to a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights from AHIMA's Dan Rode, vice president for policy and government relations.

Cost Concerns

"AHMA members note that it is very likely that few individuals will request such a right, as a percentage of the total patient population, while the attempt to build any process or system to respond to this requirement will be costly for all," Rode's letter notes.

The letter says AHIMA members, who are health information managers at hospitals and other facilities, are concerned "that in restricting information for payment, the availability and integrity of information for continued clinical care may be compromised."

Few administrative or electronic health records systems can accommodate such information restrictions internally or externally, the letter contends As a result, AHIMA recommends that if the requirement remains in the final version of the rule, compliance should be delayed "until the necessary standards, certifications and software products that can handle this requirement are available and can be implemented."

The 18-page letter raises a number of other concerns about the proposed HIPAA modifications. For example, it asks regulators to spell out more details on the fee that can be charged to patients for providing them with copies of their electronic records, asking that such a fee reflect "all reasonable labor, material and capital costs."

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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