Advocacy Alert: September

Bobbie_CBy: Bobbie Celeste, PhD, OPA Director of Professional Affairs

HIPAA New Compliance Deadline: September 23, 2013

APA has updated the HIPAA Primer and it is available to everyone here. An earlier article that is also helpful is at this link.

The basic changes are:

  1. The “minimum necessary” information to be released will be defined by you as the psychologist
  2. Add to your notice of Privacy Practice that patients can keep information away from insurers if they pay out of pocket
  3. Business associates are now directly regulated by HIPAA and must themselves abide by keeping information secure and private and must get their sub-contractors to do the same
  4. You must add this information to your business contracts and are responsible for monitoring the business associate’s behavior in case there is a violation.
  5. The breach notification requires that you notify patients and the health and human services agency if there are certain types of “breaches”, that is protected health information is exposed to persons it should not be.
  6. The penalties for violating HIPAA have been increased and are more likely to be used against psychologists who do not follow the basic rules and regulations of HIPAA.

To learn more, sign-in to the APA links above and also view my HIPAA webinar, which will be available soon.

Organization Practice Assessment payers and purchasers of the APAPO Privacy Rule Compliance product that many of you may have purchased several years ago, is a document called, HIPAA FINAL RULE: What You Need to Do Now (Final Rule Resource) which provides the inserts you need for your privacy notice and other HIPAA forms.

If you are not an APA member or don’t pay the special assessment, you can use the general information in the HIPAA Primer (updated 2013) which is free to all (see link above) and ask your practice attorney to add the necessary sections for you.

If you have never done any HIPAA preparation before, you will need to become compliant as soon as possible. The biggest penalties are for those who have not tried to be compliant. If you have been keeping up-to-date until this last change, you only need to add a few items to your HIPAA notebook to be up-to-date.

You can still purchase the HIPAA product from APA or buy one of the others on the market. One that looks to be most updated and includes templates, (if you email the author, according to the review at Amazon) is HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance Simplified—Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers and Practice Managers by Robert Brzezinski, published July 2013.

Incentive Money for Electronic Health Records Bill Introduced

A Federal Bill would make psychologists eligible for existing HITECH Act incentive payments by passing the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2013 (H.R. 2957), sponsored by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ron Barber (D-AZ).

The legislation would amend the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act of 2009 to support mental and behavioral health by enabling clinical psychologists, to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for integrating electronic health records into their practices. It would also extend this eligibility to nationally accredited community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, outpatient mental health treatment facilities and substance use facilities.

Providing incentives will increase the likelihood that Medicare and Medicaid patients will receive effective, high-quality care from psychologists. The inclusion of psychologists and other mental health providers will also generate savings for Medicare and Medicaid. Recognizing these providers as “meaningful users” under the law will promote integration of mental health into primary care settings, reduce adverse drug to drug interactions, reduce duplicate tests and provide necessary information to the emergency department at hospitals to triage patients more effectively.

To learn more and to ask your Congress member to co-sponsor the bill click here.