Judge rules sections of HIPAA are not permissible

A Washington, D.C. District Court Judge ruled late Jan. 28 that sections of HIPAA that are designed to facilitate cheaper access to patients' medical records are not permissible under the Administrative Procedure Act, according to Politico's Morning eHealth newsletter.

Under the HIPAA rule, HHS allowed third parties, such as insurers and law firms, to make requests on a patient's behalf for medical records. The rule also had limits on the amount that these third parties could be charged.

Ciox Health, a record retrieving company, filed a lawsuit last year. The company argued that the government overstepped. Judge Amit Mehta agreed, citing that the rule allowing third-party requests for patient records goes beyond what is stored in an EHR. Additionally, Mr. Mehta ruled that the payment standards do not follow the guidelines of the Administrative Procedure Act.

This ruling comes after HHS finalized a rule on Jan. 25 that would modify HIPAA's Right of Access provision. Now, hospitals and health systems must provide patients, on an individual basis, a copy of their medical records in a timely manner and without a big cost burden. Fee limitations for copies of medical records will now only apply to individual requests and does not apply to a patient's request to transmit records to a third party.

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