To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, included Administrative Simplification provisions that required the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and code sets, unique health identifiers, and security. At the same time, Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology could erode the privacy of health information. Consequently, Congress incorporated into HIPAA provisions that mandated the adoption of Federal privacy protections for individually identifiable health information.
HHS published a final Privacy Rule in December 2000, which was later modified in August 2002. This Rule set national standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information by three types of covered entities: health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers who conduct the standard health care transactions electronically. Compliance with the Privacy Rule was required as of April 14, 2003 (April 14, 2004, for small health plans).
HHS published a final Security Rule in February 2003. This Rule sets national standards for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information. Compliance with the Security Rule was required as of April 20, 2005 (April 20, 2006 for small health plans).
The Enforcement Rule provides standards for the enforcement of all the Administrative Simplification Rules.
HHS enacted a final Omnibus Rule that implements a number of provisions of the HITECH Act to strengthen the privacy and security protections for health information established under HIPAA, finalizing the Breach Notification Rule.
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