More Stimulus News

Details on the stimulus bill conference report are now becoming available. The House Appropriations Committee’s summary of the report states that

Investments in Health include:
‐ $19 billion, including $2 billion in discretionary funds and $17 billion for investments and incentives through Medicare and Medicaid to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable health information technology (IT). This provision will grow jobs in the information technology sector, and will jumpstart efforts to increase the use of health IT in doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical facilities. This will reduce health care costs and improve the quality of health care for all Americans.
‐ $1 billion for prevention and wellness programs to fight preventable diseases and conditions with evidence-based strategies.
‐ $10 billion to conduct biomedical research in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stem cells, and to improve NIH facilities.
‐ $1.1 billion to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, NIH and the HHS Office of the Secretary to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different health care services and treatment options.

The full conference report is available here.

The changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules cover over 30 pages and will take a while to digest. On first glance, the new law (§§ 13401, 13404) will apply the HIPAA Security Rule’s requirements and HIPAA’s civil and criminal penalties to business associates of covered entities. The new law (§ 13402) creates a consumer notice requirement in event of a security breach. The new law (§ 13405 – 06) makes changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s provisions governing restrictions on disclosure, accounting for disclosures, marketing, fundraising, and limited data sets, and it generally prohibits the sale of protected health information. The law (§ 13408) expands the definition of business associate to include entities related to electronic medical records and personal health records. The law (§ 13409 – 10) toughens penalties, expands liability to individuals, and gives state attorney generals enforcement authority. And there’s more, but I think that I have hit the highlights.

Business Insurance reports that “Employees who are laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, would be eligible for a 65% federal subsidy for up to nine months of COBRA health insurance premiums under economic stimulus legislation nearing final congressional approval.” Evidently, the conference report does not include the COBRA continuation coverage extensions found in the House bill.