Today, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) announced that it is extending its review of the final regulations arising from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”). Based on regulatory timeframes, these regulations were expected to be released no later than today. The regulations have been long-awaited and will cover several different aspects of HIPAA compliance that will impact every covered entity and business associate. For a more detailed summary of what the regulations are expected to contain, please see our previous alert on that topic.
The OMB accepted the regulations for review on March 24, 2012 and had 90 days to complete its assessment of their economic and other impacts. We are not aware of the reason for the extension of the review period, but given the history and importance of these regulations, an extension has always been a possibility. There are two circumstances where such an extension is permitted. First, the Director of OMB can extend a given review on a one-time basis for 30 days at his/her discretion. Second, the head of the rulemaking agency (in this case HHS) can request an extension for an indefinite period of time. It is not clear from the OMB’s announcement which of these circumstances occurred, and thus we cannot predict with any certainty how long the extension will last. As recently as two weeks ago, officials within the HHS Office for Civil Rights indicated that the regulations would be issued “very soon,” and we still believe that to be true. We will closely monitor this matter and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Once the final HITECH regulations are issued, we will publish a series of alerts summarizing the various components of the regulation as part of our HIPAA Impact Series. Hall Render’s HIPAA Impact Series has provided in-depth analysis of HIPAA issues and developments since the passage of HITECH. Our HIPAA Impact Series may be accessed at www.hallrender.com/impact.
If you need additional information about HIPAA/HITECH, please contact Mark Swearingen at 317.977.1458 or email@example.com or your regular Hall Render attorney.