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Anna D. Kraus

Anna Durand Kraus has a multi-disciplinary practice advising clients on issues relating to the complex array of laws governing the health care industry. Her background as Deputy General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gives her broad experience with, and valuable insight into, the programs and issues within the purview of HHS, including Medicare, Medicaid, fraud and abuse, and health information privacy. Ms. Kraus regularly advises clients on Medicare reimbursement matters, the Medicaid Drug Rebate program, health information privacy issues (including under HIPAA and the HITECH Act), and the challenges and opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act.

On March 18, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“HHS OCR”) updated its “Use of Online Tracking Technologies by HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates” guidance addressing how regulated entities may use tracking technologies on their websites and mobile applications in a manner compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”).  The guidance, originally published in December 2022, states that HIPAA-regulated entities are not permitted to leverage tracking technologies in ways that would result in an impermissible disclosure of protected health information (“PHI”) or other violation of HIPAA.  The guidance also emphasizes the importance of safeguarding PHI and notes that regulated entities may not share PHI with tracking technology vendors (e.g., third-party advertisers) absent a business associate agreement (“BAA”) with the vendor or pursuant to a patient authorization. Continue Reading HHS OCR Updates Tracking Technologies Guidance

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (“HELP”) Committee, published on February 21, 2024, a white paper with various proposals to update privacy protections for health data. In Part 1 of this blog series (see here), we discussed the first section of Senator Cassidy’s February 21, 2024, white paper. Specifically, we summarized Senator Cassidy’s proposals on how to update the existing framework of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”) without disrupting decades of case law and precedent. In this blog post, we discuss the other sections of the white paper, namely proposals to protect other sources of health data not currently covered by HIPAA.Continue Reading Senator Cassidy Issues White Paper with Proposals to Update Health Data Privacy Framework – Part 2: Safeguarding Health Data Not Covered by HIPAA 

On February 21, 2024, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (“HELP”) Committee, issued a white paper, “Strengthening Health Data Privacy for Americans: Addressing the Challenges of the Modern Era”, which proposes several updates to the privacy protections for health data. This follows Senator Cassidy’s September 2023 request for information from stakeholders about how to enhance health data privacy protections covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) framework and to consider privacy protections for other sources of health data not currently covered by HIPAA. The white paper notes that several entities, including trade associations, hospitals, health technology companies, and think tanks, responded to the RFI.Continue Reading Senator Cassidy Issues White Paper with Proposals to Update Health Data Privacy Framework – Part 1: Updates to the HIPAA Framework

On February 16, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published a final rule to amend the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (“SUD”) Patient Records regulations (“Part 2”) to more closely align Part 2 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”)

On February 12, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), published a notice requesting comment on an upcoming information request.  Specifically, OCR invites comments regarding its burden estimate for a “HIPAA Audit Review Survey.”  The Survey consists of “39 online survey questions” and will be sent to “207

On February 6, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), announced that it had settled a cybersecurity investigation with Montefiore Medical Center (“Montefiore”), a non-profit hospital system based in New York City, for $4.75 million.  As brief background, OCR is responsible for administering and enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”).  Among other things, HIPAA requires that regulated entities take steps to protect the privacy and security of patients’ protected health information (“PHI”).Continue Reading HHS Settles Malicious Insider Cybersecurity Investigation for $4.75 Million

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss recent amendments to California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (“CMIA”) that (i) expand the scope of the law to cover reproductive or sexual reproductive or sexual health services that are delivered through digital health solutions and the associated health information generated from

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an updated joint publication describing the privacy and security laws and rules that impact consumer health data.  Specifically, the “Collecting, Using, or Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to HIPAA, the FTC Act, and the Health Breach Notification Rule” guidance provides an overview of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, and the implementing regulations issued by HHS (collectively “HIPAA”); the FTC Act; and the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”) and how they may apply to businesses.  This joint guidance follows a recent surge of FTC enforcement in the health privacy space.  We offer below a high-level summary of the requirements flagged by the guidance.Continue Reading FTC and HHS Announce Updated Health Privacy Publication

On May 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (the “proposed rule”) to “strengthen and modernize” the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”).  The proposed rule builds on the FTC’s September 2021 “Statement of the Commission on Breaches by Health Apps and Other Connected Devices” (“Policy Statement”), which took a broad approach to when health apps and connected devices are covered by the HBNR and when there is a “breach” for purposes of the HBNR.  The proposed rule primarily would (i) amend many definitions that are central to the scope of the HBNR (e.g., “breach of security,” “health care provider,” and “personal health record”), and (ii) authorize expanded means for providing notice to consumers of a breach and require additional notice content.  According to the FTC, these changes to the HBNR would ensure the HBNR “remains relevant in the face of changing business practices and technological developments.”  Below, we provide a brief summary of the history of the HBNR leading up to this proposed rule, a brief summary of the proposed rule, and a timeline for commenting.Continue Reading FTC Announces a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Expand Scope of the Health Breach Notification Rule

On May 17, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an enforcement action against Easy Healthcare Corporation (“Easy Healthcare”) alleging that it shared users’ sensitive personal information and health information with third parties contrary to its representations and without users’ affirmative express consent, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.  It also alleges that Easy Healthcare failed to notify consumers of these unauthorized disclosures, in violation of the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”).  According to the proposed order, Easy Healthcare will pay a $100,000 civil penalty for violating the HBNR and, among other requirements, will be permanently prohibited from sharing users’ personal health data with third parties for advertising purposes.  The FTC also noted that Easy Healthcare will pay a total of $100,000 to Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Oregon for violating their laws.Continue Reading FTC Announces Second Enforcement Action Under Health Breach Notification Rule Against Fertility App Developer Easy Healthcare