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The Department’s Office for Civil Rights seeks to strengthen HIPAA privacy rule

Today, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights, issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to strengthen Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule protections by prohibiting the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) to investigate, or prosecute patients, providers, and others involved in the provision of legal reproductive health care, including abortion care. HHS has heard from patients, providers, and organizations representing thousands of individuals that this change is needed to protect patient-provider confidentiality and prevent private medical records from being used against people for merely seeking, obtaining, providing, or facilitating lawful reproductive health care.

Since the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, protecting patient health information and privacy has taken on critical importance. Following the decision, President Biden signed Executive Order 14076, directing HHS to consider ways to strengthen the protection of sensitive information related to reproductive health care services and bolster patient-provider confidentiality. Today’s announcement is consistent with that Executive Order and coincides with the third convening of President Biden’s Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access – a task force aimed…

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