August 01, 2011
VIA ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
RE: HIPAA Privacy Rule Accounting of Disclosures—RIN 0991-AB62
The Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC) is pleased to provide comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or the Department) to inform upcoming rulemaking related to the HITECH Act and the subsequent changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule Accounting of Disclosures requirement. The AAHC, representing more than 100 academic health centers nationwide, is dedicated to improving the nation's health care system by mobilizing and enhancing the strengths and resources of the academic health center enterprise in health professions education, patient care, and research.
The AAHC commends OCR’s efforts to alleviate unnecessary compliance and administrative burdens that accounting for disclosure requirements have placed on covered entities, and applauds its efforts responding to specific concerns of the research community. The AAHC is pleased with the OCR and its positive response to recommendations submitted by the AAHC and other stakeholders concerned with the demanding and burdensome accounting of disclosure requirement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule as it applies to the nation’s biomedical research enterprise. The AAHC strongly supports OCR’s proposal to exempt research from the accounting of disclosures requirement. We believe this proposed change would have no significant negative impact on the privacy of patients and would serve to streamline the research process.
In response to the OCR’s request for information in May 2010, the AAHC expressed its concerns with the accounting for disclosure requirement, and the possible negative impact it would have on biomedical research necessary to advance the health and well-being of the nation. The AAHC further argued that the requirement had thus far shown little, if any, patient benefit. In an effort to foster information-sharing and encourage more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and community-based studies, the AAHC proposed that research be exempted from the accounting for disclosure requirement. The Privacy Rule currently requires covered entities to provide a six-year accounting for many disclosures of health information, including, in many instances, the transfer or sharing of information for research purposes, upon request of an individual. The AAHC is pleased to see that the OCR and HHS have responded to these concerns and are proposing to exempt research from the accounting of disclosures requirement.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit our comments. The AAHC would be pleased to work with HHS and the OCR not only to provide feedback on the upcoming rule but also to ensure that appropriate protections are extended to the patient community. If you have any questions regarding our comments or require any additional information on HIPAA-related issues, please feel free to contact me at 202-265-9600.
Steven A. Wartman, MD, PhD, MACP
President and CEO
Association of Academic Health Centers