HELP Stop HIPAA Changes
The Administrative state is at it again. This time, in April 2023 the Administration’s US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to modify privacy standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) titled HIPAA Privacy Rule To Support Reproductive Health Care Privacy. This NPRM makes stark and disturbing changes to generally understood HIPAA laws…to the detriment of women and girls, and at the same time putting healthcare professionals in an untenable position.
HHS is also proposing to redefine an unborn child as a ‘non-person”. Once again, the Administration is finding ways to assert that an unborn child is “just a fetus” and not a person deserving of full human rights.
It would do so by altering how doctors comply with HIPAA, the current law that protects patients’ privacy. The Administration is proposing changes in the name of personal privacy, but it would ultimately circumvent state laws, allowing for the exploitation of women and children, and devaluing human life.
HHS states in their proposed rule that because of the Dobbs decision, they must at all-cost protect “reproductive health care”, no matter who is hurt in the process. “Reproductive health care” would be defined broadly as “care, services, or supplies related to the reproductive health of the individual.” This would not only cover abortion, but also contraception, pregnancy, miscarriage, fertility treatments, and even sterilizing “gender transition” practices, such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating surgeries.
Current HIPAA regulations allow for the disclosure of private health information to law enforcement in cases of child abuse or when there is a serious threat to another person’s health or safety. So, the rule in effect would bar the disclosure from health care professionals of abortion-related private health information to a court or law enforcement and remove the ability of these authorities to investigate the abuse or neglect of children.
If a doctor suspects that a girl/woman is being coerced by her trafficker into getting an abortion or there was gender transition surgery performed illegally on a child, this proposed rule would prevent that doctor from sharing these concerns with the proper authorities.
The proposed rule itself is confusing and vague and will result in putting patients at greater risk. The changes in this rule are alarming and are a clear example of federal overreach. These policies attempt to circumvent state law and weaken protections of children and the vulnerable and devalue unborn human life. It will also embolden human traffickers and other abusers since they will not be held accountable of their criminal behavior if this rule is enacted.
Here’s how you can make a difference:
- Take time and make your comment in OPPOSITION to this proposed rule on the Federal Register. Federal agencies by law must give everyday citizens the opportunity to weigh in on proposed rules and regulations via the comment process. Individual, personalized comments sharing your views and input are best. You can submit your comment to the Federal Register directly here. The comment period is very short, and comments are due no later than by Friday, June 16, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
- Share this information. Please also share this with your healthcare colleagues and your brothers and sisters in Christ, because this is an opportunity to make a difference!
|Potential Talking Points for your individualized comment:
· This proposed rule would re-define an unborn baby as a “non-person” which both de-values human life and is scientifically inaccurate.
· This NPRM directly excludes HIPAA protections for unborn children.
· This NPRM broadens the definition of “reproductive health care” to include contraception, miscarriage, and even gender transition procedures.
· HIPAA currently permits covered entities based on reasonable belief to disclose protected health information (PHI) about victims of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence to a government authority, including a social service or protective services agency, authorized by law to receive reports of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. The NPRM would prohibit such disclosures when the report “is based primarily on the provision of reproductive health care.” This could further enable child abuse.
· The NPRM would preempt state law that would require use or disclosure of PHI for reproductive health care, in effect, it would likely inhibit states’ ability to investigate or enforce abortion laws or laws prohibiting minors from accessing gender transition drugs and surgeries.
· This NPRM would likely inhibit state health departments’ collection of health data and investigations and enforcement of health and safety regulations.
· HHS estimates that first-year costs alone attributed to the NPRM would be approximately $612 million, and a great deal of the administrative cost/burden would fall on health care professionals.