At a talk at The Heritage Foundation, Alex Azar, the current Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stated that the HHS will be looking at HIPAA and other health privacy regulations and making updates in the near future.

The final Security Rule was enacted in 2003; this was about the time when the smartphone was adopted by general consumers.  Our technological prowess has come a long way since then. The HIPAA regulations haven’t been amended since the Omnibus Ruling that was implemented in 2013.  Many people in the health care industry have been clamoring for updates to HIPAA.

Now, it sounds like HHS is going to work on updates to HIPAA and Medicare.  HHS will be sending out requests for information on HIPAA.  It is unclear if this will be open to the public for comment or will be sent out to targeted people in the health care industry.

After the requests for information are collected, HHS will then work to reform HIPAA.

The goal is to remove obstacles to value-based care and to support efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

So far, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already proposed one change to Medicare, to how physicians are paid for basic evaluation visits.  Currently, there are five tiers to payments for visits with the payments increasing for visits that are more complex.  This forces physicians or their staff to justify those higher requests for payment.  CMS has proposed reducing the five tiers to two.

This proposed change would allow physicians and their staff to provide more time to patient care.

If you are looking for a place to stay up-to-date with HIPAA regulations, HIPAAgps is a great resource and an effective system for learning about HIPAA and working on compliance.