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Philanthropic Health Care Violations of HHS' HIPAA Law Again Near Zero, Federal Government Tells Association for Healthcare Philanthropy
Date:4/14/2008

WASHINGTON, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the fifth anniversary since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) patient privacy rules went into effect, the Federal government has again conceded there are practically no examples of violations "in the context of fundraising efforts," the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) revealed today.

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a recent email to AHP that practically none of the complaints it has received alleging violations of HIPAA privacy rules involve fundraising. Through February 2008, the Civil Rights Office has received a total of 33,916 complaints since the rule's April 14, 2003 effective date.

"While OCR's complaint system does not specifically track complaints dealing with philanthropic activities, anecdotal information from OCR's regional investigative offices suggest that a very small number of complaints involve allegations that protected health information has been misused in the context of fundraising efforts by covered entities," a senior HHS official told AHP. A similar conclusion was drawn by HHS in 2007.

William McGinly, president and CEO of AHP, said that the government's admission is once again proof that despite HIPAA-imposed paperwork burdens and limitations on access to grateful patient records, "philanthropic health care organizations have fostered voluntary compliance of the highest order and have fully cooperated with the Federal government on HIPAA."

The Bush administration moved to institute stringent, across-the-board HIPAA patient privacy regulations in 2003, despite the fact that President Clinton had let stand the access of AHP members to grateful patient information. The information had been used to ask grateful patients and their families for donations which funded a wide range of programs, including pre-natal screening, free dental care, community clinic
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SOURCE Association for Health Care Philanthropy
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