Health Law: Feds Step Up HIPAA Compliance Audits

Unprepared entitities risk being hit with hefty financial penalties

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has fundamentally changed the health care industry's privacy and security practices. However, the federal government's enforcement efforts historically have been complaint-driven and sporadic. As a result, HIPAA-covered entities and business associates typically have failed to make compliance a priority. In fact, in 2008, the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General published a report criticizing the government's HIPAA oversight, concluding that, "reliance on complaints alone was ineffective" for identifying noncompliance.

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