HHS and SAMHSA Issue Proposed Rule Aligning HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2
On November 28, 2022, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) released a proposed rule (87 FR 74216) to implement the bipartisan CARES Act legislation, which, among other things, will require HHS to bring 42 CFR part 2 (“Part 2”) into greater alignment with certain aspects of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA") Privacy, Breach Notification, and Enforcement Rules. As discussed by HHS in its public release, Part 2 protects patient privacy and records concerning treatment related to substance use challenges from unauthorized disclosures. Specifically, the proposed rule increases coordination among providers in treatment for substance use challenges and increases protections for patients concerning records disclosure to avoid discrimination in treatment. HHS released a Fact Sheet on the proposed rule.
CMS Issues New Resources to Aid Compliance With Hospital Price Transparency Requirements
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released three new processing formats to assist hospitals in meeting the federal hospital price transparency requirements. The published resources can be found here and include CMS’s “tall,” “wide,” and “plain” formats as well as other resources to assist in hospital compliance with these requirements. The three formats help facilitate the listing of the standard charges such as gross charges, discounted cash prices, payer-specific negotiated charges, and de-identified minimum and maximum negotiated charges.
HHS Issues New Rule to Adopt Standards for Health Care Attachments Transactions and Electronic Signatures
HHS issued a proposed rule (87 FR 78438) under HIPAA that would allow providers to electronically transfer “health care attachments,” such as medical charts, x-rays, and provider notes that document physician referrals, and office or telemedicine visits, and sign documents electronically to facilitate prior authorizations and other healthcare claims transactions. According to the release issued by CMS on December 19, 2022, this move is a part of HHS’ and CMS’ ongoing efforts to “significantly reduce paperwork burdens and empower health care providers to focus on direct patient care and streamline the care experience for patients and providers.” Under the proposed rule, CMS estimates a savings of $454 million annually in administrative costs. CMS issued a Fact Sheet on the proposed rule.