Stimulus Package Includes Significant Expansion of HIPAA

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the federal stimulus package, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. While this law will significantly affect a number of industries, its Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH Act”) contains provisions that will impact the health care industry by substantially expanding the reach of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). HIPAA was enacted to establish national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans, and employers, and to help covered entities address the security and privacy of health data. The new legislation includes provisions intended to shore up public confidence in the use of electronic health records (“EHR”s) and personal health records (“PHR”s) by beefing up enforcement of HIPAA and expanding the scope of businesses covered by the Act.

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