U.S. HHS proposes modifications to the HIPAA privacy rules

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules to support individuals’ engagement in their care, remove barriers to co-ordinated care, and reduce regulatory burdens on the healthcare industry. The proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule include: (a) strengthening individuals’ rights to access their own health information, including electronic information; (b) improving information sharing for care co-ordination and case management for individuals; (c) facilitating greater family and caregiver involvement in the care of individuals experiencing emergencies or health crises; (d) enhancing flexibilities for disclosures in emergency or threatening circumstances, such as the Opioid and COVID-19 public health emergencies; (e) reducing administrative burdens on HIPAA covered health care providers and health plans, while continuing to protect individuals’ health information privacy interests.