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MGMA: Proposed HIPAA Disclosures Rule 'Unworkable'

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 29, 2011

Just days before the close of the comment period on the proposed "accounting of disclosures" HIPAA privacy rule, providers are cranking up the volume to get the rule changed or thrown out and rewritten from scratch.

"This proposed rule is just too onerous," says Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association, whose members include practices with 275,000 physicians in the U.S. 

Results from an MGMA survey released this week indicate that passage of the rule in its proposed form would be a strong or a complete disincentive to install an electronic health record system for 568 of the 1,340 respondents. Another 169 said it would be a moderate disincentive.

This proposed rule, called for by the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), and written by the Office for Civil Rights is intended to give patients the ability to learn who viewed any medical information, even that related to treatment, payment, and health operations.

It would require physician practices with electronic health records to produce an "accounting of disclosures" and an "access report for treatment, payment and healthcare operations."

That could mean producing documents that are 2,000 pages long, Tennant said. Also, the proposed rule would require that practices keep this information for three years.

The information provided would include the date, the time the information was accessed, and what information was accessed, as well as the name of the person who accessed it, "which raises other issues such as the privacy of the employee," Tennant explained in a telephone interview.

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