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CT Breach Notification Case Proves HITECH's Worth

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media, September 28, 2010

Those are certainly pluses.

But since HITECH was signed into law in February 17, 2009, the best example of how it's actually worked for the better may be in Connecticut. There, new HITECH powers unleashed a trickle-down effect that ultimately may help that state better comply with HIPAA.

It began back in July, when Connecticut's state attorney general office announced it had reached a settlement with Health Net and its affiliates over the failure last year to secure the private medical records of 1.5 million policyholders and for the insurers' delay in reporting the breach.

The settlement imposed a $250,000 fine on the company for HIPAA and HITECH violations, and requires the insurers to adopt rigorous security and notification measures.

But how does that make other entities better off?

Last month, the Connecticut Insurance Department issued a bulletin that calls for state insurers to notify affected individuals and the state's insurance commissioner of a breach of patient information no later than five calendar days after its discovery.

If HITECH hadn't granted new powers to state attorneys general to pursue lawsuits regarding HIPAA, Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal would not have gone after Health Net, and that case may never have come to the forefront. And without it, the state's insurance department may never have tightened its belt regarding breach notification.

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