MGMA: New HIPAA disclosure requirements are too costly, burdensome

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The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in response to the request for information on the new HIPAA privacy rule for disclosures under the HITECH Act, suggesting that the new accounting for disclosures requirements are burdensome and onerous for medical practices.

While the 2003 HIPAA Privacy Rule permitted patients to request an accounting of disclosures of their protected health information, this new provision expands the type of information required in this accounting. According to MGMA, medical groups with EHRs are now required to track all disclosures of patient information, including those made for treatment, payment and healthcare operation.

According to new MGMA online member research of more than 360 practice administrators, in groups where more than 7,000 physicians practice medicine, an overwhelming majority of respondents stated that they had received very few accounting for disclosure requests from patients since 2003 and expressed serious concern regarding the cost, staff training and computer upgrades required of them in order to comply.

“We certainly hope the agency will take a serious look at revising these requirements,” said William F. Jessee, MD, MGMA president and CEO. “The current approach to accounting for disclosures clearly runs counter to the goal of improving patient care, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost through administrative simplification and accelerated adoption of EHRs by medical groups. MGMA will continue to work with OCR to ensure that reasonable and realistic policies are in place that keep patient information private and secure as the nation’s medical groups make the transition to electronic technology.”

In its comments, MGMA highlighted five critical issues and concerns:

  • The administrative burden on physician practices;
  • The low volume of current patient requests for accounting reports;
  • The burdensome and unnecessary accounting for treatment disclosures;
  • The burdensome and unnecessary accounting for payment and healthcare operations disclosures; and
  • The rule’s discouraging effect on physician practice adoption of EHRs.

Click here to read MGMA’s comment letter to OCR.