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Kirk Nahra Discusses Proposed Legislation Addressing EHR Privacy and Security Issues

Healthcare Info Security
January 27, 2016

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy Practice and co-chair of the Health Care Practice, was quoted in a HealthcareInfoSecurity.com article about proposed legislation addressing privacy and security issues related to electronic health records (EHR)—including interoperability and the secure exchange of health data. The measure follows the federal government’s investment of $30 billion on the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act’s “meaningful use” EHR incentive program.

The proposal is part of the U.S. Senate’s response to the 21st Century Cures Act, which the House passed last year aiming to speed up medical innovation, noted Mr. Nahra. According to the article, that bill calls for revamping the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to allow the use and disclosure of protected health information for research purposes without patient authorization, if covered entities or business associates are involved in the use or exchange of the data.

“Rather than putting everything in one huge bill, like the House did, the Senate is breaking this into smaller pieces, with this [bill] being one of the pieces,” Mr. Nahra said. “This particular bill tries to focus on a variety of health IT topics that have gotten bogged down in bureaucratic and technical details over the past few years.”

Mr. Nahra said elements of the bill, including a component that deters information blocking practices, “target specific identified problems and could be useful.” But he said other parts of the draft have the potential of “creating new and different—but not necessarily better—rules and standards and processes for developing standards.”

“There is a recognition that health IT is really important ... but the complexity of the political, regulatory, and technical debate is making everything really hard,” he noted. “This bill could help somewhat, but the problems aren't going away.”

To read the complete article, please click here.