AHA pleads for HIPAA waiver clarification, extension

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The American Hospital Association is asking for clarification on the HIPAA waiver released by the Trump administration on March 17 in a letter to HHS.

In the March 25 letter, hospitals expressed uncertainty about whether they can rely on waivers specific to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which creates protections for hospitals.

“We ask that you clarify that no further action by the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services is needed or required to create the protections and that hospitals do not have to make individual requests or seek permissions from the agency. We also ask for clarification to ensure that CMS does not have to make any individual determinations about individual hospital’s circumstances.”

In the HIPAA waiver, HHS is not enforcing penalties on hospitals. However, traditional HIPAA waivers only last 72 hours. The AHA is asking for HHS to extend the waiver to the end of the coronavirus crisis.

“If the Department of Health and Human Services is unable to revise the waivers of the requirements of EMTALA and HIPAA, the AHA urges you to announce that theDepartment will exercise enforcement discretion and not take action against hospitals that fail to meet the requirements of EMTALA and HIPAA during the COVID-19 crisis,” the letter reads.  

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