In a dramatic turn, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that effective immediately, penalties for many HIPAA violations will be subject to substantially reduced limits. After a record year of collecting high-dollar settlements, the agency has pulled back and tied its own hands through a Notification of Enforcement Discretion that will likely result in lower penalties and settlement agreement amounts.
The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) adds another set of privacy requirements for health and life sciences companies. Managing the interaction of these new requirements with existing obligations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), and other health privacy laws will continue to be an area of focus in the health privacy community for years to come. In the latest installment of the CCPA blog series, we describe these issues and outline four important steps health and life sciences companies may consider to assess the CCPA’s operational impact.
Aetna will pay almost $17.2 million to settle a federal class action lawsuit stemming from a 2017 mailing that disclosed the HIV status of health plan members. Aetna also agreed last week to pay a $1.15 million fine to the state of New York after the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into Aetna’s alleged violations of federal and state privacy laws. Both settlements require compliance monitoring and record keeping obligations.
Last month, tucked into a 2,000-page spending bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) was enacted into law. Years in the making, CISA is intended to incentivize organizations to share cyber threat indicators with the federal government and to promote the dissemination of this information to organizations facing similar threats. The spending bill included a number of other cybersecurity provisions covering topics ranging from federal preparedness to foreign policy strategy. Most notably, the bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop cybersecurity best practices for organizations in the healthcare industry. The bill also directs federal agencies to create new plans to fortify federal information systems and identify cyber-related gaps in the federal workforce.