MGMA Calls Accounting of Disclosures Proposal Burdensome, Urges Withdrawal

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The Medical Group Management Association is urging the Department of Health and Human Services to withdraw its recently proposed rule aimed at modifying existing accounting of disclosure standards in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule.

MGMA said that HHS instead should work with provider groups to develop a “consensus-driven solution” to meeting mandates in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act that the accounting for disclosures standards be changed.

“If enacted as proposed, the rule would require medical practices that maintain electronic patient information to have the capability to produce a detailed report of every instance a patient's information was accessed by any staff member for any reason including submitting claims for payment,” MGMA said in a July 26 release.

HHS's Office for Civil Rights on May 31 published the proposed rule (76 Fed. Reg. 31426), which would establish two separate rights for individuals—one that allows individuals to request a full accounting of which of their protected health information, in electronic or paper form, has been accessed and shared and how, and another allowing patients to request information about who has accessed their personal health information in electronic form (see previous article).

Recommendations Based on Survey

MGMA said its recommendation to HHS to withdraw the rule is based in part of a survey of physician group practices, in which more than 90 percent of the 1,400 respondents said the rule would be “very” or “extremely” burdensome. Furthermore, 65 percent of respondents said that one or fewer patients had requested disclosure reports in the past 12 months.

“Considering how infrequently physician practices receive these requests from patients, the proposed rule fails to meet the statutory requirement to balance the needs of patients with the burden on providers,” MGMA President and Chief Executive Officer William F. Jessee said in the release. “The reports, which would be required to show all electronic access to a patient's health information for up to three years, could be hundreds or even thousands of pages long, making them extremely challenging for physician practices to produce and of little practical value to the patient receiving them.”

Jessee said the proposed rule could have the unintended consequence of discouraging physician practices from investing in new technologies and adopting electronic health records.

OCR is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Aug. 1.

Results from the MGMA survey are available for download at .