The US Health and Human Services (HHS) has requested $78M funding, including $38M specifically earmarked for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to reduce its investigation backlog and provide educational outreach.
Related, OCR announced the plan to stand up three new divisions to help manage HIPAA and civil rights complaints. HHS reports that OCR’s civil rights case receipts have increased by 252 percent since 2016 and that HIPAA large breach reports doubled since 2017 The lack of advertised corrective action plans or civil monetary penalties reflects that cases may not be getting processed in a timely manner. We don't understand why some years show significant case settlement increases, while others do not; it could be the sitting OCR Director's priorities. Notably, it is reported that $6M is also being requested to support civil enforcement of confidentiality protections for substance abuse disorder records (i.e. 42 CFR data).
If approved, 2024 could show the reduction of their case backlog and a more aggressive resolution effort following breaches. The best thing we can advise is for our partner-clients to run a compliant program and keep their risk assessments current to direct the work required to keep their patient information secure. The graphic below links to the OCR's budget request brief slides.
Stay (HIPAA) safe,