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Elizabeth Brim

Elizabeth Brim is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office. She is a member of the firm’s Health Care and Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Groups, advising clients on a broad range of regulatory and compliance issues. In addition, Elizabeth maintains an active pro bono practice.

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

On April 17, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would revise the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) Privacy Rule to bar certain uses and disclosures of protected health information (“PHI”) related to reproductive health care.  Specifically, the proposed rule (“Rule”) would amend the Privacy Rule to prohibit covered entities or business associates (collectively, “regulated entities”) from using or disclosing PHI for purposes of (1) criminal, civil, or administrative investigations into or proceedings against any person in connection with seeking, obtaining, providing, or facilitating lawful reproductive health care, or (2) the identification of any person for the purpose of initiating such investigations or proceedings.

The Rule appears to be designed to further President Biden’s executive order directing HHS to consider actions that would “strengthen the protection of sensitive information related to reproductive healthcare services and bolster patient-provider confidentiality.”  President Biden issued the order in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Below, we provide a brief summary of the proposed changes and a timeline for commenting.Continue Reading HHS Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on HIPAA and the Use and Disclosure of Information Related to Reproductive Health Care

On April 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that four Notifications of Enforcement Discretion (“Notifications”) that were issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”) during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on May 11, 2023.  In response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, OCR announced it would exercise enforcement discretion with respect to noncompliance with certain provisions of HIPAA.  Now that the public health emergency is set to expire, OCR is rescinding the relevant Notifications.  Below, we summarize the four Notifications that are set to expire:Continue Reading HHS Issues Notice of Expiration of COVID-19 HIPAA Enforcement Discretion

On March 26, 2023, Virginia enacted a genetic privacy law (SB 1087) aimed at regulating the practices of direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) genetic testing companies.  Virginia is not the only state interested in regulating these companies—numerous other states, including Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, and Vermont, have introduced similar bills during this legislative session, following the enactment of similar genetic privacy laws in Arizona, California, and Utah in recent years.  Virginia’s SB 1087, effective July 1, 2023, adds to the growing net of state genetic privacy protections.Continue Reading Virginia Enacts Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Privacy Law as Numerous Other States Introduce Similar Bills

On December 20, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its issuance of Health Products Compliance Guidance, which updates and replaces its previous 1998 guidance, Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry.  While the FTC notes that the basic content of the guide is largely left unchanged, this guidance expands the scope of the previous guidance beyond dietary supplements to broadly include claims made about all health-related products, such as foods, over-the-counter drugs, devices, health apps, and diagnostic tests.  This updated guidance emphasizes “key compliance points” drawn from the numerous enforcement actions brought by the FTC since 1998, and discusses associated examples related to topics such as claim interpretation, substantiation, and other advertising issues.Continue Reading FTC Issues New Guidance Regarding Health Products

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss recently issued proposed rule to implement statutory amendments enacted by Section 3221 of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).  Specifically, the proposed rule would harmonize certain provisions of the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records under

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss a recent amendment to California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (“CMIA”) that expands the scope of the law to cover mental health services that are delivered through digital health solutions and the associated health information generated from these services.  Continue Reading California Expands the Scope of the CMIA to Cover Certain Digital Mental Health Services and Information

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss the Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) recently published request for information (“RFI”) seeking comment on implementing certain provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.  The RFI seeks input as to how covered entities and business

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss recently announced Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) guidance meant to help companies determine their obligations under the Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”).  The guidance follows the FTC’s September 2021 Policy Statement, which expanded the Rule’s application to the developers of health