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Office for Civil Rights to Hire HIPAA Privacy Enforcers

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media, August 12, 2009

HHS announced Tuesday it is expanding its privacy enforcement team with two HIPAA "privacy specialists" who will help the public better understand their rights under HIPAA and enforce compliance among covered entities and business associates.

The jobs–called "senior health information privacy outreach specialists"–were opened Tuesday and will remain as such until August 31, according to usajobs.com.

The new hires will operate under the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act through its Division of Health Information Privacy; HIPAA Security came under OCR’s umbrella on July 27.

The $120,000 to $150,000 positions will report to the deputy director for Health Information Privacy and the OCR director.

The news comes a little less than a month after HHS announced it would advertise a position for two "Health Information Privacy Specialists." Those positions, according to the job posting at the time, are "responsible for reviewing, analyzing, implementing, promoting, or improving proposed or existing programs or policies needed to implement OCR's authority for ensuring compliance with the privacy of health information."

The jobs posted a month ago seem to be in-house policy-makers, while the duties for the jobs opened this week are about public education and enforcement.

As for the positions advertised this week, they are to provide the "functional leadership, oversight, supervision, and coordination necessary to plan, coordinate, and execute activities necessary to provide outreach, public education, and technical assistance on the requirements of the Privacy Rule and Patient Safety to increase public awareness of rights and protections under these authorities and the responsibilities of entities to comply with these authorities."

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