HIPAA Update

HIPAA (Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act) was passed by the U.S. Congress and inspired by President Clinton in 1996. The bill’s intent was to make it easier for workers to continue their healthcare insurance coverage.

The difficulty arose on how to insure uninterrupted coverage for all patients (clients). Providers and health care organizations have a need to pass the data back and forth. Therefore, healthcare records would need to be more portable; hence, electronic records.

Transferring confidential health records became a risk. Therefore, security measures were established:

1)    The EDI rule
2)    The Previewing Rule
3)    The Security Rule

Our article is too short to explain these regulations – it behooves all readers to look up these regulations.  

There has been a decade and a half of bipartisan support for the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) as a form of controlling health care costs and improving medical care.

Many hospitals and medical practices already have begun the implementation and “stimulus” money has come forth from the federal government. Unfortunately, MFTs are not included in this money (hopefully, we will be at a future date).

Electronic programs that have been developed must be certified. Certifications are being worked out at this time and regulation should be in place by January 2012.

If you are seeing Med-Cal patients or insurance carriers – medical – an EDI billing and electronic medical records will be necessary.  Presently, the Department of Mental Health and insurance carriers are working on compliance.

The federal government sees Electronic Health Records as a part of the health care system. Again, unfortunately, MFTs are not given stimulus money for implementation.  

It is vital that when any of our readers see workshops on Electronic HIPAA regulations that one take the workshop. This affects all of us!  Knowledge is very important in this area.

The U.S. government has become extremely aggressive about enforcing HIPAA security regulations. State governments are going beyond and are implementing the model after California SB 1386.  

We must take steps now to secure automatic e-mails’ security. If you e-mail clients, security is of utmost importance. The future is preparing for this enterprise to benefit electronic medical records which include e-mails. E-mails and medical records will have to be encrypted.  

The bottom line is our practices are changing and each of us has to be prepared for it. The AAMFT Magazine will devote itself concerning electronic records in January 2012 as I am sure CAMFT will, as well.  All of us are in this together. Let’s learn for our future.

San Gabriel Valley Chapter
of the California Association
of Marriage and Family Therapists


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