The blogger below summarizes recent reports from HHS on privacy issues. These reports demonstrate (at least, to me) that protecting the privacy of patient health information in the manner prescribed by the HIPAA (and applicable state) laws and regulations may be largely unattainable. I have concluded that privacy does not merit the emphasis being placed on it or the financial burdens required of the health care industry in order to comply. The task is a lot like filling up a sieve. There are more important things to worry about in American healthcare.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued two reports to Congress required by Section 13402(i) of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act:
–“Annual Report to Congress on Breaches of Unsecured Protected Health Information For Calendar Years 2011 and 2012” (the Breach Report); and
–“Annual Report to Congress on HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rule Compliance For Calendar Years 2011 and 2012” (the Compliance Report).
Both of OCR’s reports (as well as previous annual reports) may be accessed here. This post discusses the Compliance Report. We summarized the Breach Report in a separate post entitled “Federal Government Report on Data Breaches in Health Care.”
OCR is the office responsible for administering and enforcing the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. The Compliance Report summarizes OCR’s compliance and enforcement activity with respect…
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The Harvard Law School Blog, Bill of Health, recently posted an article entitled “Contraceptive Mandates and Conscience – All Objections Are Not Equal.”
… studies show that medical professionals may object to services based on clinically false information. … If medical professionals make decisions based on ignorance, one can suspect that lay employers and patients do as well.
This suggests that individuals often lack the information necessary to truly assess their stance on morally controversial services. While the law does (and should) play a role in protecting conscience, it seems unsatisfying when such protection is granted to those holding underdeveloped views, and at the expense of (and detriment to) those seeking legal medical services.
This seems so simple and logical. We do not let employers make other health-related decisions for their employees, why do we let some employers make reproductive decisions for their employees based on a religious view not shared by their employees?
This doesn’t have much to do about health law, but it does have to do with the long-term health of America.
I like to think that I am a caring and tolerant human being. I am also a White Anglo Saxon Protestant male. I have no ethnic background worthy of opinion one way or the other. I am plain white toast with margarine. I cannot comprehend what it is to live a life filled with fear and danger when simply going about activities of normal daily living. That is inexcusable in America, and it only can change by our being constantly reminded that the problem of prejudice is real and is affecting real people.
Racism is a virus. Our health as a nation requires that virus to be obliterated. The obliteration only happens when we as a nation refuse to tolerate racism — it does not matter how the racism shows itself. Racial oriented jokes are more insidious sometimes than overt racist behavior. People of good character must be willing to say enough is enough. No more excuses and explanations about whether the person who was abused because of his race is somehow responsible the abuse.
It’s time for America to get healthy.
The last several decades have seen a growing interest in what defines and shapes health. Despite having the highest per capita health spending, the United States lags behind many other countries in many health indicators, and glaring health disparities remain. The United States devotes a small share of its health expenditures (less than 9 percent) toward disease prevention.
Policy has often focused on health care rather than health, with a significant lack of emphasis on prevention, in spite of the fact, as the literature suggests, that the multilevel promotion and adoption of healthy behaviors stands to reap the most “bang” for our health care “buck.” Knowledge of the relative importance of health determinants can help design programs that prioritize interventions in areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact. However, addressing even the few determinants that are thought to be most responsible for good health requires policy makers to work across all sectors, public and private, and at the federal, state, and local level.
Go here for more on this very interesting study from Health Affairs and related research.
I invite you to register for this timely and lively program, “Charlotte’s Tangled Web – Considerations for How Doctors and Lawyers Might Avoid the Legal Entanglements of Medical Marijuana in Florida.”
Legal and medical continuing education credit has been applied for.
“The charges in this case are deeply troubling,” U.S. Attorney Dettelbach said. “Inflating Medicare billings alone would be bad enough. Falsifying cardiac care records, making an unnecessary referral for open heart surgery and performing needless and sometimes invasive heart tests and procedures is inconsistent with not only federal law but a doctor’s basic duty to his patients.”
“This doctor violated the sacred trust between doctor and patient by ordering unnecessary tests, procedures and surgeries to line his pockets,” Special Agent Anthony said. “He ripped off taxpayers and put patients’ lives at risk.”
Just another case where greed coupled with disregard for his patients’ welfare led a physician to commit fraud on the government and commercial insurers and to forsake his Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Here, the physician not only ordered unnecessary and more invasive procedures than the patient needed but also falsified nuclear test results to justify the unnecessary procedures.
While there is no way to prevent greed like this (other than locking the bastards up), I have predicted in other posts that the migration of medical reimbursement from procedure based to quality of care of the patient will reduce the incentive to perform unnecessary tests and hopefully reduce this kind of fraudulent activity.
The American Health Lawyers Association is devoted to education on the legal issues in the healthcare field. It has over 12,000 members.
The AHLA recently published its Health Law Curriculum Toolkit to address practice readiness of law school grads wanting to practice in the area of healthcare law. The Toolkit is illuminating as to what the field of health law is and the issues and requirements that law schools and employers have in dealing with law students and law graduates interested in the field.