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Simplify HIPAA.

2,046 Views / Posted by Aaron Greenspan

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The law is clearly so confusing that even highly-educated medical professionals can't interpret it properly. If the Sherman Antitrust Act could be a few clauses and still effective, why can't laws be written the same way today?
Supporters: Aaron Greenspan, William Hughes, Erna Boldt, Lisa Matulevicz
Opponent: Alex Hendler

Laws and Regulations, United States Code
42 U.S.C. § 1320d: Title 42, Part C, Chapter 7, Sub-Chapter XI, Section 1320d

§1320d. Definitions

For purposes of this part:

The term "code set" means any set of codes used for encoding data elements, such as tables of terms, medical concepts, medical diagnostic codes, or medical procedure codes.

The term "health care clearinghouse" means a public or private entity that processes or facilitates the processing of nonstandard data elements of health information into standard data elements.

The term "health care provider" includes a provider of services (as defined in section 1395x(u) of this title), a provider of medical or other health services (as defined in section 1395x(s) of this title), and any other person furnishing health care services or supplies.

The term "health information" means any information, whether oral or recorded in any form or medium, that--

(A) is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, employer, life insurer, school or university, or health care clearinghouse; and

(B) relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual, the provision of health care to an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual.

The term "health plan" means an individual or group plan that provides, or pays the cost of, medical care (as such term is defined in section 300gg-91 of this title). Such term includes the following, and any combination thereof:

(A) A group health plan (as defined in section 300gg-91(a) of this title), but only if the plan--

(i) has 50 or more participants (as defined in section 1002(7) of title 29); or

(ii) is administered by an entity other than the employer who established and maintains the plan.

(B) A health insurance issuer (as defined in section 300gg-91(b) of this title).

(C) A health maintenance organization (as defined in section 300gg-91(b) of this title).

(D) Parts 1 A, B, C, or D of the Medicare program under subchapter XVIII of this chapter.

(E) The medicaid program under subchapter XIX of this chapter.

(F) A Medicare supplemental policy (as defined in section 1395ss(g)(1) of this title).

(G) A long-term care policy, including a nursing home fixed indemnity policy (unless the Secretary determines that such a policy does not provide sufficiently comprehensive coverage of a benefit so that the policy should be treated as a health plan).

(H) An employee welfare benefit plan or any other arrangement which is established or maintained for the purpose of offering or providing health benefits to the employees of 2 or more employers.

(I) The health care program for active military personnel under title 10.

(J) The veterans health care program under chapter 17 of title 38.

(K) The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), as defined in section 1072(4) of title 10.

(L) The Indian health service program under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (25 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.).

(M) The Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan under chapter 89 of title 5.

The term "individually identifiable health information" means any information, including demographic information collected from an individual, that--

(A) is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, employer, or health care clearinghouse; and

(B) relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual, the provision of health care to an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual, and--

(i) identifies the individual; or

(ii) with respect to which there is a reasonable basis to believe that the information can be used to identify the individual.

The term "standard", when used with reference to a data element of health information or a transaction referred to in section 1320d-2(a)(1) of this title, means any such data element or transaction that meets each of the standards and implementation specifications adopted or established by the Secretary with respect to the data element or transaction under sections 1320d-1 through 1320d-3 of this title.

The term "standard setting organization" means a standard setting organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute, including the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, that develops standards for information transactions, data elements, or any other standard that is necessary to, or will facilitate, the implementation of this part.


(Aug. 14, 1935, ch. 531, title XI, §1171, as added Pub. L. 104–191, title II, §262(a), Aug. 21, 1996, 110 Stat. 2021; amended Pub. L. 107–105, §4, Dec. 27, 2001, 115 Stat. 1007; Pub. L. 111–5, div. A, title XIII, §13102, Feb. 17, 2009, 123 Stat. 242.)

References in Text

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act, referred to in par. (5)(L), is Pub. L. 94–437, Sept. 30, 1976, 90 Stat. 1400, which is classified principally to chapter 18 (§1601 et seq.) of Title 25, Indians. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 1601 of Title 25 and Tables.

Prior Provisions

A prior section 1171 of act Aug. 14, 1935, was classified to section 1320c–20 of this title prior to repeal by Pub. L. 97–35.


2009—Par. (5)(D). Pub. L. 111–5 substituted “C, or D” for “or C”. 2001—Par. (5)(D). Pub. L. 107–105 substituted “Parts A, B, or C” for “Part A or part B”.


Section 261 of title II of Pub. L. 104–191 provided that: “It is the purpose of this subtitle [subtitle F (§§261–264) of title II of Pub. L. 104–191, enacting this part, amending sections 242k and 1395cc of this title, and enacting provisions set out as a note under section 1320d–2 of this title] to improve the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act [subchapter XVIII of this chapter], the medicaid program under title XIX of such Act [subchapter XIX of this chapter], and the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system, by encouraging the development of a health information system through the establishment of standards and requirements for the electronic transmission of certain health information.”

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    Alex Hendler

    Alex Hendler / January 19, 2012 at 1:50 AM ST

    The HIPAA statute appears in 42 U.S.C. Chapter 7, Subchapter XI, Part C, entitled "Administrative Simplification", Sections 1320d - 1320d-9

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    Problems Add Add a Problem
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    Problem Medical Professionals Frequently Restrict Patient Data, Even To Patients Themselves
    I was once waiting on crucial test results, and a nurse refused to tell them to me over the phone even though they were my results. She insisted that HIPAA prohibited her from disclosing them over the phone, and that I would have to come to the hospital to see them--even though I was too sick to get there, which is why I needed the results. It was absolutely infuriating.

    Doctors, nurses and hospitals have totally overcompensated to meet the law's requirements to the point where patients are being harmed.
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    Problem Health care providers or their staff sometimes poorly understand or implement the privacy protections required by HIPAA.
    It has not. I have been lucky enough to deal with health care providers who have been properly educated about how to apply HIPAA's privacy protections
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