Final HIPAA rules issued

Saturday, August 31, 2002

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration issued final rules for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) last month, and they include a change that eases the paperwork burden on providers.

Under the rules, providers must obtain patients' approval before they can disclose private information in "nonroutine" cases, such as giving information to an employer or using medical information for marketing purposes. However, providers do not need to obtain written permission before disclosing medical records. Rather, providers must give patients notice of their new rights and make a "good faith effort" to obtain written acknowledgment from patients saying they have received the information, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The final HIPAA rule will finally enable providers to move ahead with their compliance plans," stated AAHomecare President & CEO Tom Connaughton. "It also reduces a lot of unnecessary paperwork for providers, allowing them to spend more time treating patients and not interfering with a patient's right to get timely, effective care." HME