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How ARRA and HITECH provisions affect HIPAA compliance
AIS reported taht the new HITECH Act requires hospitals, providers, health plans and other HIPAA covered entities (CEs) to meet a February 2010 deadline for revising their business associate (BA) agreements. New language in BA amendments should require BAs to comply with (a) the HIPAA Security Rule,(b) new security breach notification rules and related strategies that CEs choose to implement, and (c) new privacy obligations imposed on CEs by the HITECH Act. Developing and maintaining effective BA relationships should be a top compliance priority for CEs, since privacy and security breaches often take place at the BA level and can be just as damaging to a covered entity’s reputation. With February approaching and lots of tricky questions to resolve, covered entities need a quick crash course in what their options are for designing and implementing these amendments in the next three months.

While the HITECH Act did not come right out and say “business associate agreements must be revised,” it does stipulate that certain provisions “shall be incorporated into the business associate agreement between the business associate and the covered entity.” Among them: business associate agreements must be amended to reflect the new mandate that BAs must comply with the Security Rule, should be amended to provide the covered entity with adequate notice in the event of a security breach, and should incorporate new privacy obligations imposed on CEs by the HITECH Act

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