You may recall on December 10, 2020 we wrote about the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announcement of a proposed rule  that would revise the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations. In the proposed rule, HHS has solicited public comments, that were originally due within 60-days  of the proposed rule publication in the Federal Register.

Like many other agency actions at the end of the previous administration, publication of the proposed rule was somewhat delayed. The National Archives published the proposed rule in the Federal Register on January 21, 2021. This meant that the original deadline to submit comments would have been Monday, March 22, 2021.  Last week HHS announced that the deadline was extended until May 6, 2021.

To recap the important changes contemplated by the proposed rule, they involve relaxing certain privacy standards, strengthening individuals’ rights to access their protected health information and other initiatives that better aligns with the Information Blocking Rule, which goes into effect on April 5, 2021.  HHS intends for these changes to reduce or eliminate barriers to coordinated care and move towards a value-based system, consistent with the recent changes to the Stark Law and the creation of new safe harbors under the Anti-Kickback Statute.

While this extension gives you an additional six weeks to prepare and submit comments, don’t  procrastinate too much, because the extended IRS deadline to file your taxes is following close behind on May 17, 2021.