The healthcare reform bill that passed a key Senate committee today contains several health IT related provisions. Among them are new rules regarding HIPAA, including a proposals allowing the periodic update of HIPAA standards, and fines to health plans that don't comply to HIPAA "operating rules" by April 2014.The 223-page page bill championed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) allows the Dept. of Health and Human Services to designate a committee that no later than April 2014 would biannually review existing HIPAA standards and operation rules, and make recommendations for updates. The bill also proposes that health plans would be required to certify to HHS by Dec. 2015 that "their data and information systems comply with the most current standards and operating rules" for HIPAA transactions, including four additional ones--health claims, enrollment/disenrollment in plans, health plan premium payments, and referral certification and authorization.
There's also a listing of proposed penalties for health plans that don't certify compliance to the HIPAA requirements.
The Senate bill will surely go through a host of changes as it's combined with proposals from the House of Representatives, and there's no certainty any bill will be passed by Congress and signed by Obama.
But there's one thing that seems certain. As health IT gets more of the spotlight, expect that HIPAA will continue to be under the microscope, too.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).