FPF Files Comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights
On June 15, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) filed comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on extending additional protections to reproductive health care data under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
One year ago last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision that has resulted in loss of access to reproductive care for many Americans. Federal and state legislative and regulatory entities have been quick to respond to protect rights to reproductive care, a fundamental aspect of decisional privacy. Rulemakings such as this one by HHS OCR seek to fill the gap left in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision that fundamentally shifted the landscape of data and information privacy. With a post-Dobbs lens, FPF has filed comments on this rulemaking based on the following recommendations.
We recommend that HHS bolster privacy safeguards and support the responsible handling of reproductive health care information (RHCI) by specifically:
- Ensuring that covered entities are aware of and responsible for information that, directly or indirectly, can reveal data about individuals seeking or receiving reproductive health care;
- Providing additional guidance and resources to address the information privacy responsibilities of covered entities for their business associates and vendors;
- Distributing privacy education and guidance materials to covered entities and partners on data privacy transparency;
- Conducting regulatory analysis and providing compliance support for small clinics and rural/remote providers facing increased legal requests for reproductive and related health information;
- Addressing privacy protections for reproductive health care data collected and generated during and as a part of clinical research.
FPF’s full comments to the HHS are available here.