News To Know – April 2016

HHS LAUNCHES HIPAA AUDIT PROGRAM

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it has launched the second phase of its HIPAA audit program, which focuses on compliance with HIPAA’s Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules.

This second phase of the HIPAA audit program covers both covered entities and business associates. HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has already started sending emails to covered entities and business associates to verify their contact information. Next, OCR will send a pre-audit questionnaire to gather data about potential auditees. OCR will use this data to select covered entities and business associates for audits.

According to OCR, these HIPAA audits are primarily a compliance improvement activity. However, if an audit reveals a serious compliance issue, OCR may initiate a compliance review to investigate.
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INSULIN'S SURGING PRICE TURNS DIABETES STAPLE INTO LUXURY GOOD

Patients with diabetes are constantly being offered the technological equivalent of the latest smartphone. Trouble is, many can only afford a basic handset.

The three drugmakers that dominate the world diabetes market—Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., Novo Nordisk A/S and Sanofi—are introducing improved forms of insulin, the sugar-regulating hormone some patients require, with a price tag to match. But with diabetes tearing across the developing world, health officials say the focus must return to meeting basic needs.

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DOL FIDUCIARY RULE RELEASED

The Department of Labor has released the finalized version of its fiduciary rule, more than five years after it was first proposed. In a press call, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez called the rule “a huge win for the middle class,” and said the rule is central to the larger Obama White House initiative to create the “strongest consumer protections in history.”

The final rule, which took into consideration thousands of comments from financial industry stakeholders, many of whom staunchly opposed the rule in its proposed form, will guarantee retirement savers a shot at a “secure, dignified retirement,” said Perez, by addressing what he called systemic conflicts of interest throughout the advisory business.
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REPORT: NEW OBAMACARE ENROLLEES SICKER, COSTLIER TO INSURE

Health insurers gained a sicker, more expensive patient population after the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage in 2014, according to an early look at medical claims from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents the most common brand of insurance.

Newer customers had higher rates of diabetes, depression and high blood pressure, among other conditions, the association said in a report released Wednesday. They also visited the emergency room much more frequently than people who had private, individual coverage before the law expanded.
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BROADER EMPLOYMENT DEFINITIONS MAY LEAD TO DOL VIOLATIONS

In new guidance issued on Jan. 20, the Department of Labor has aggressively interpreted its authority “as broad as possible” to hold employers responsible for wage and hour violations committed by separate “joint employers.” This guidance, issued by David Weil, the administrator of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, makes clear those businesses sharing employees or using contractors or temporary staffing agencies may become legally responsible for wage and hour violations committed by another employer.
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