The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has issued a formal request for information from the public about how regulated entities are implementing industry recognized security practices. The request for information represents a chance for the private sector to contribute to HHS regulation. Interested parties have until June 6, 2022 to submit comments.
HHS seeks this information to be better informed when making determinations regarding fines, audits, and remedies after a potential violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Security Rule. The request for information was issued by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), which enforces the privacy and security rules for health providers and insurers that hold health data.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act requires that HHS consider industry recognized security practices during enforcement, and does not require nor prohibit rulemaking based on the same. The HITECH Act defines “recognized security practices” as (i) the standards found in section 2(c)(15) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Act, (ii) the approaches found in section 405(d) of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, and (iii) “other programs and processes that address cybersecurity and that are developed, recognized, or promulgated through regulations under other statutory authorities”. OCR seeks information in order to improve guidelines about these standards.
Uncorrected violations under the HITECH Act can carry a minimum of $50,000 per violation in civil penalties. Enforcement actions are initiated by OCR through investigating complaints alleging violations of HIPAA Rules, as well as compliance reviews conducted by OCR following a breach report. Covered entities are required to submit breach reports after cybersecurity incidents under certain circumstances.
The request for information, found here contains specific prompts on the topic.