HHS extends comment period for proposed HIPAA changes

HHS' Office for Civil Rights on March 9 announced a 45-day extension of the public comment period for its proposed modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

OCR introduced the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December as part of HHS' Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care initiative, which analyzes federal regulations that interfere with healthcare providers and health plans' efforts to better coordinate care for patients.

The proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule include strengthening individuals' access to their own health information, facilitating greater family and caregiver involvement in the care for individuals and access to their PHI during emergencies or health crises.

OCR's NPRM was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 21, 2021; the 45-day extension moves the current deadline for public comments from March 22 to May 6. The agency will consider comments from all stakeholders, including patients and their families, health plans, providers and their business associates.

"OCR anticipates a high degree of public interest in providing input on the proposals because the HIPAA Privacy Rule affects nearly anyone who interacts with the health care system," Acting OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese said in a March 9 news release. "The 45-day extension of the comment period to May 6, 2021, will give the public a full opportunity to consider the proposals and submit comments to inform future policy."

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