The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enters resolution agreements with covered entities or business associates who have been found to be non-compliant. As part of each settlement, the covered entity agrees to perform certain obligations and report to HHS on their progress over the course of three years. During the period, HHS monitors the covered entity’s compliance with its obligations. If HHS is unable to reach a resolution through the covered entity’s reported compliance efforts, then civil money penalties (CMPs) may be enforced.
This year, the Federal government has gone a long way to loosen certain regulations, allowing healthcare providers to focus on the national public health emergency that has been caused by COVID-19. While their leniency and ability to provide regular changes and updates has been welcome, that doesn’t mean compliance programs are completely off the hook until this pandemic is over. Especially when it identifies improper compliance oversight or blatant disregard for law by bad actors.
So while it may be true that we see fewer settlements throughout the pandemic, there have still been plenty of headline-making settlements announced by the OIG HHS. Why is that important? Well, around here we use government actions as a bellwether for future audits, enforcement, and fines. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
To that end, we’ve rounded up some of the most newsworthy settlements of 2020, and government recommendations. By reading our latest eBrief, “Warning Signs: Takeaways from Recent OCR Settlements,” you’ll have a good idea of where the government’s enforcement strategies are focused, based on recent fines, including:
- Failure to Terminate Former Employee’s PHI Access
- Aetna’s Three Breaches in Six Months
- Right of Access Initiative