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Regulatory compliance alone not protecting practices against data breaches

In an effort to meet industry and government patient privacy regulations, many health care organizations, including physician practices, are stuck in a “check-box mentality” that has taken focus away from other vulnerabilities, an organization behind a report on data security concludes. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society surveyed 250 senior health information technology and data security officers on behalf of Kroll Advisory Solutions, a risk-management firm whose services include data security and data-breach response. The officers reported that they were prepared to meet compliance regulations. On a scale of one to seven, with one being “not at all compliant” and seven being “compliant with all applicable standards,” respondents reported that they were an average of 6.64 in terms of meeting regulations set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a 6.62 for meeting HIPAA regulations, and a 6.41 for meeting state security laws. However, ...

State abortion laws place unprecedented limits, requirements on doctors

Several states recently continued their push to implement more restrictions on when doctors are allowed to provide abortions, in some cases effectively cutting off access to the procedures, according to opponents. Wisconsin Planned Parenthood announced that it had stopped offering nonsurgical abortion services after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law requirements on the physicians facilitating them. Under the new law, a doctor must have three office visits with a woman before prescribing a drug-induced abortion, determine that the woman is not being coerced into the procedure and not use webcams during the procedure. Physicians who don’t follow the mandate could be subject to jail time or other criminal penalties. The enactment of the law was opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society, which said that it “directly infringes on the special and private relationship between the patient and physician” by legislating medical protocol. In Mississippi, a new law requires physician ...

House GOP claims health reform taxes would hurt businesses

House Republicans are objecting to taxes earmarked to fund key health system reforms, saying that raising new revenues from businesses would hinder employers from hiring workers. The House Small Business Committee held an April 18 hearing to discuss taxes created by the 2010 reform law. Republicans are pushing to lower taxes on businesses, but a dozen taxes related to the law will be levied on companies and individuals by 2014. They include tax penalties on certain businesses that do not provide health coverage to workers and surtaxes on investment income for individuals with income more than $200,000. “Small businesses are especially sensitive to expected tax policy because they must make important, long-term decisions today on investment, hiring and expansion,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R, Mo.), the committee chair. Starting in 2013, a 3.8% surtax will be levied on investment income of more than $200,000 for individuals and more than $250,000 for couples, according to a comm ...