New HIPAA Rules Issued: Disclosures and Revised Notices of Privacy Practices

The following information was submitted by Elizabeth Hogue, Esq:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final rules to:

  • Modify the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules to implement statutory amendments under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) to strengthen the privacy and security protection for individuals’ health information;
  • Modify the rule for Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information (Breach Notification Rule) under the HITECH Act to address public comments received on the interim final rule;
  • Modify the HIPAA Privacy Rule to strengthen the privacy protections for genetic information by implementing section 105 of Title 1 of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA); and
  • Make other modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Breach Notification and Enforcement Rules to improve their workability and effectiveness, and to increase flexibility and decrease burden on regulated entities.

The final rules were published in the Federal Register on January 25,2013, and will be effective on March 26, 2013.  Covered entities and business associates must comply with the final rules by September 23, 2013.  This is the third in a series of articles that will address key provisions of the rules, their impact on post-acute providers, and practical solutions for compliance. Continue reading “New HIPAA Rules Issued: Disclosures and Revised Notices of Privacy Practices”

State Releases Mass HIWay Implementation Grants Solicitation

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (“MeHI”), a component of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (“Mass Tech Collaborative”), has just released an RFP offering grants to eligible applicants to fund projects that ‘catalyze connections’ to the Statewide Health Information Exchange (the Mass HIway) by migrating existing processes away from paper based exchanges and exchanges using proprietary interfaces to use the Mass HIway. This program, budgeted at $2M, will issue awards up to $75,000 each. The state is holding  on‐line information sessions for interested applicants on March 21 and March 27. Applications are due April 16th

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Best Around the (Home Care) Web III

Each week, the Alliance scours the blogosphere for the news affecting — and of interest to — the home care industry.  Here are highlights from this week:

Treating Older Veterans for PTSD and Dementia

Because post-traumatic stress syndrome can trouble veterans’ physical health, their emotional lives and their relationships (there is also a connection to dementia, researchers are finding), the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans advocacy groups have made it their mission to inform service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan about their PTSD risk.

But older veterans tend to know less about the syndrome, even as it haunts many of them. Their generation had less experience with psychotherapy, which once carried a stigma. Even now, if they do seek help, they are likely to describe their problems as physical. — via the NYT’s New Old Age Blog

New Group to Advocate for Improved Interoperability Standards

Top executives from Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, Greenway and McKesson appeared on the same stage at HIMSS 2013 Monday to announce that they will collaborate to push for interoperability standards to enable advancements in patient data exchange. McKesson CEO John Hammergren and Cerner’s Neal Patterson joined colleagues Jonathan Bush, CEO athenahealth, and Tee Green, CEO Greenway, to introduce the CommonWell Health Alliance (

The organization will become operational early next year but wanted to announce its formation and publicize its mission statement during the March 3-7 HIMSS meeting. The five charter members expect that they will soon be joined by many others. “One of the key challenges we face is not just automated healthcare but connected and together care,” said McKesson’s Hammergren. “Data liquidity is necessary to make it happen.” —  Via, HomeHealth News Continue reading “Best Around the (Home Care) Web III”

Hospice Reporting Reminder- Deadline April 1st

The following is a noticed released by CMS last week reminding Hospice Providers of the April 1st deadline for submission of the hospice pain measures (NQF #0209). 

Hospice Quality Reporting Program: NQF #0209 Deadline April 1

Important Alert: The deadline to submit the NQF #0209 data is quickly approaching. Hospices that fail to submit and attest to their data will receive a 2 percentage point reduction in their Annual Payment Update (APU) for the FY 2014.

To comply with the Payment Year 2014 Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) requirements, providers should currently be entering their NQF #0209 data on the data entry and submission website. Providers that have not already created a data entry account should do so now.

The deadline for reporting NQF #0209 data for Payment Year 2014 is April 1, 2013. In order to avoid a 2 percentage point reduction in their Annual Payment Update (APU), providers must have submitted their structural measure data by January 31, 2013 and must submit their NQF #0209 data by April 1. Providers that may have missed the structural measure deadline can still visit the data entry website, create an account, and enter their NQF #0209 data. The link to the data entry site, along with a Technical User Guide giving step-by-step instructions on the data entry process, can be found on the Data Submission portion of the CMS HQRP website.

User Account Deactivation Requests for the HQRP

If you anticipate needing a deactivation request for your HQRP user account, please submit the user account deactivation request to the Technical Help Desk via fax at 888-477-7871 or email at prior to March 25, 2013. Any deactivation requests received on or after March 25 puts a hospice organization at risk for missing the NQF #0209 deadline, which is April 1. Please note: all data submitted by a user who is deactivated is permanently deleted.

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CDC and CMS Alert – “Super-bug” CRE on the Rise

Infections with the deadly Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are on the rise in hospitals nationwide, and are a serious threat to public health according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to the movement of patients throughout the healthcare system, if CRE are a problem in one facility, then typically they are a problem in other facilities in the region as well as in the home. Home health agencies may want to alert staff about CRE and steps to take if an infection is suspected.

CDC and CMS Sound Alarm on “Nightmare” Bacteria

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CMS are asking your assistance in tackling what may be one of the most pressing patient safety threats of our time—carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). CDC recently released a report on the presence of CRE in U.S. inpatient medical facilities, demonstrating that action is needed now to halt the spread of these deadly bacteria. We are asking for rapid action from healthcare leaders to ensure that infection prevention measures are aggressively implemented in your facilities and those around you.

Enterobacteriaceae are a family of more than 70 bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli, that normally live in the digestive system. Over time, some of these bacteria have become resistant to a group of antibiotics known as carbapenems, often referred to as last-resort antibiotics. During the last decade, CDC has tracked one type of CRE from a single healthcare facility to facilities in at least 42 states. In some healthcare facilities, these bacteria already pose a routine threat to patients.

CDC has released a concise, practical CRE prevention toolkit with recommendations for controlling CRE transmission in hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, nursing homes, and health departments. Key recommendations follow CDC’s “Detect and Protect” strategy, including:

  • Enforcing use of infection control precautions (standard and contact precautions).
  • Grouping patients with CRE together.
  • Dedicating rooms, staff, and equipment to the care of patients with CRE whenever possible.
  • Having facilities alert each other when patients with CRE transfer back and forth.
  • Asking patients whether they have recently received care somewhere else (including another country).
  • Using antibiotics wisely.

When fully implemented, CDC recommendations have been proven to work. Medical facilities in several states have reduced CRE infection rates by following CDC’s prevention guidelines.

The United States is at a critical point in our ability to stop the spread of CRE. If we do not act quickly, we will miss our window of opportunity and CRE could become widespread across the country.

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National Provider Call: Activation of PECOS Edit May 1

Register for the National Provider Call on Wednesday, March 20; 3-4pm

CMS will hold a national provider call on March 20 from 3-4pm ET on the “Implementation of Phase 2 Edits on the Ordering/Referring Providers in Medicare Part B and Part A -Home Health Agency Claims.”

Effective May 1, 2013, CMS will instruct contractors to turn on Phase 2 denial edits; checking Medicare claims for home health services ordered by physicians who are not enrolled in the Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS). If physicians are not enrolled these claims will be denied.

In order to receive call-in information, you must register  on the CMS website CMS Upcoming National Provider Calls. During the registration process, advanced questions may be posted

National Provider Call Agenda:

  • Provider Types Eligible to Order/Refer
  • Action Steps for Billing Providers
  • Action Steps for  Providers Who Order/Refer
  • Resources

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HCA Executive Director Named to Key Health Policy Advisory Group

Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher has been named to the Health Policy Commission Advisory Council joining a list of other health care leaders  who will help guide the implementation of the state’s Health Care Cost Containment Law.

Better known as Chapter 224, (“An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs through Increased Transparency, Efficiency and Innovation”) the law requires the Health Policy Commission’s (HPC) Executive Director to establish the Advisory Council and designate members with diverse perspectives on the health care system to two-year terms. The Council will advance Chapter 224 implementation by advising on the HPC’s overall operations and policies, providing feedback on a grant program to support new system delivery and payment reform methods, and encouraging public and stakeholder engagement in the HPC’s work.

“This is an impressive group that promises to enrich the HPC’s work,” said Executive Director Seltz. “They are part of the coalition that made the first chapter of Massachusetts health care reform such a resounding success and the passage of our nation-leading cost containment law possible. Each member will bring a different and important perspective to our work to implement Chapter 224. I am grateful for their willingness to serve.”

The Advisory Council includes the following members from across the state:

  • Christine Alessandro, Executive Director, BayPath Elder Services, Inc.
  • Dianne Anderson, RN, President & CEO, Lawrence General Hospital
  • Michael Caljouw, Vice President, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
  • JD Chesloff, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
  • Cheryl Clark, MD, Director of Health Equity Research & Intervention, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
  • John Cox, President, Cape Cod Community College
  • Karen Day, Executive Director, US Policy, AstraZeneca
  • Ralph de la Torre, President & CEO, Steward Health Care System
  • Vicker “Vic” Digravio, President & CEO, Association of Behavioral Health
  • Ronald Dunlap, MD, South Shore Hospital, President-Elect, Massachusetts Medical Society
  • John Erwin, Executive Director, Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
  • Julian Harris, MD, Director, Office of Medicaid
  • Jim Hunt, President & CEO, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
  • Jon Hurst, President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts
  • Dan Keenan, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Sisters of Providence Health System
  • Patricia Kelleher, Executive Director, Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts
  • Gene Lindsey, MD, President & CEO, Atrius Health
  • Geoff MacKay, President & CEO, Organogenesis
  • David Martin, Senior Director, Health Policy, Covidien
  • David Matteodo, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, Inc.
  • Dolores Mitchell, Executive Director, Group Insurance Commission
  • Abraham “Ned” Morse, President, Massachusetts Senior Care Association
  • Joyce Murphy, Executive Vice Chancellor, Commonwealth Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Lynn Nicholas, President & CEO, Massachusetts Hospital Association
  • Cheryl Pascucci, APRN, FNP-C, Commonwealth Care Alliance
  • Lora Pellegrini, President & CEO, Massachusetts Association of Health Plans
  • Julie Pinkham, Executive Director, Massachusetts Nurses Association
  • Donald Thieme, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals
  • David Torchiana, MD, President & CEO, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization
  • Celia Wcislo, Vice President, 1199 SEIU of Massachusetts
  • Brian Wheelan, Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy & Development, Beacon Health Strategies
  • Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director, Health Care for All

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