Health Privacy

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

Washington’s My Health My Data Act (“HB 1155” or the “Act”), which would expand privacy protections for the health data of Washington consumers, recently passed the state Senate after advancing through the state House of Representatives.  Provided that the House approves the Senate’s amendments, the Act could head to the governor’s desk for signature in the coming days and become law.  The Act was introduced in response to the United States Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.   If enacted, the Act could dramatically affect how companies treat the health data of Washington residents. 

This blog post summarizes a few key takeaways in the statute.Continue Reading Washington’s My Health My Data Act Passes State Senate

On March 8, 2023, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response and the Health Sector Coordinating Counsel Joint Cybersecurity Working Group, released an updated version of its Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guide (the “Guide”) “to help the public and private health care sectors prevent cybersecurity incidents.”  Specifically, the Guide aims to help healthcare organizations leverage the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to “determine their cybersecurity goals, assess their current cybersecurity practices, or lack thereof, and help identify gaps for remediation.”  Continue Reading HHS Releases Guidance to Help Healthcare Organizations Align with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

As permitted by the GDPR, France has enacted some specific requirements for the processing of health data, in particular in the context of medical research.  Following a report, the French supervisory authority (“CNIL”) audited two organizations carrying out medical research in early 2022 to check their compliance with these requirements.  On March 13, 2023, the

On February 1, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its first-ever enforcement action under its Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”) against digital health platform GoodRx Holdings Inc. (“GoodRx”) for failing to notify consumers and others of its unauthorized disclosures of consumers’ personal health information to third-party advertisers.  According to the proposed order, GoodRx will pay a $1.5 million civil penalty and be prohibited from sharing users’ sensitive health data with third-party advertisers in order to resolve the FTC’s complaint. 

This announcement marks the first instance in which the FTC has sought enforcement under the HBNR, which was promulgated in 2009 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act, and comes just sixteen months after the FTC published a policy statement expanding its interpretation of who is subject to the HBNR and what triggers the HBNR’s notification requirement.  Below is a discussion of the complaint and proposed order, as well as key takeaways from the case.Continue Reading FTC Announces First Enforcement Action Under Health Breach Notification Rule

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

On December 28, 2022, the Spanish Data Protection Authority (“AEPD”) published a statement on the interplay between its recently approved Spanish code of conduct for the pharmaceutical industry and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations’ (“EFPIA”) proposal for an EU code of conduct on clinical trials and pharmacovigilance.  The statement relates specifically to the legal basis for processing personal data in the context of clinical trials.Continue Reading The Spanish AEPD Publishes Statement on the Interplay Between its Code of Conduct for the Pharmaceutical Industry and the Potential EU Code of Conduct on Clinical Trials

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

On 31 May 2022, the Italian Parliament approved Law 62/2022, also known as the Sunshine Act, which entered into force on 26 June 2022. The new rules will become fully operational once the Ministry of Health sets up the public database where companies will have to disclose their data.  In practice, this means the new