Changes Are Coming.

Have you heard the news out of Washington regarding the proposed reduced budgets for OCR and HHS?

First, thank you for visiting our booth at the recent Small Business Expo. We appreciate you taking time to visit with us and as promised…here is our special webinar.

“Last fall, OCR launched its much-delayed phase two of the HIPAA compliance audit program. That included OCR conducting more than 200 remote “desk audits” of covered entities and business associates.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) which oversees health IT standards and policies, including secure health data exchange, would face a 36 percent budget cut under the Trump budget proposal for fiscal 2018, reducing its budget from $60 million to $38 million. Full-time staff would be cut from 188 employees to 162. ONC’s privacy and security activities would be “closed out.

OCR officials had originally planned to also conduct a smaller number of more comprehensive on-site audits in the first quarter of calendar 2017. But by February, officials said plans to conduct those onsite audits were being pushed back…

If Congress does indeed approve the proposed OCR budget cut, onsite audit plans could be on hold indefinitely…ONC and OCR may see changes to their operations under an agency-wide reorganization plan being developed by Secretary Tom Price: “I urge taking a wait-and-see approach as the process of adopting a federal budget is far from completion.”

True, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of HIPAA and its enforcement. However, it’s not going away. Enforcement of guidelines and audits will continue.

Keep this in mind—All of the civil penalty money that OCR collects goes right back into their budget. This means that they’ll push even harder to do their job. 2016 was the biggest year by far for HIPAA fines, and 2017 is already creeping up on the 2016 total.

In 2018, OCR will reduce overhead and non-personnel costs. However, OCR will use civil monetary settlement funds to support HIPAA.

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