Senate Finance bill includes new HIPAA rules

While most people were focusing on the Finance reform bill's government expansion and the price tag of a public option, few may have noticed a small section of the 223-page measure that addresses HIPAA.

The bill includes new rules for periodically updating HIPAA standards, and would impose fines to health plans that don't comply by April 2014. It would also authorize HHS to biannually review existing HIPAA standards and operating rules, while offering recommendations for updates.

Health plans also would be required to certify to HHS by December 2015 that "their data and information systems comply with the most current standards and operating rules" for HIPAA transactions, which include health claims, enrollment/disenrollment in plans, health plan premium payments and referral certification and authorization. The bill even proposes penalties for health plans that don't comply.

No one can predict what measures the final version of the healthcare overhaul bill will contain, or even if it will become law. But no one doubts the importance of information technology in healthcare's future as a way to streamline cost and efficiency. So, as IT continues to be scrutinized, count on HIPAA following close behind.

For more on the story:
- read the Information Week article