HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced final standards for the privacy of electronic medical records and modifications to a number of previously adopted transaction and code sets as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. And in other HHS news, Bobby Jindal, a former Modern Healthcare Up & Comer, said he would step down as HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation to consider other opportunities in his home state of Louisiana. Jindal was Thompson's principal policy advisor on Medicare and the uninsured. The security standards become effective April 21, and compliance is required within two years. The standards will be published in the Feb. 20 Federal Register. Read the standards and modifications on HHS' HIPAA Web site.
Meanwhile, two important healthcare-provider related bills have passed out of committee. The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed a bill to create a voluntary, national database for medical errors and establish grants to help providers adopt technology to improve patient safety. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a bill to continue a federal program that supports state development of trauma systems and decreases the requirements for participation. -- by Tony Fong