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OCR News Releases & Bulletins

OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion to Allow Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information by Business Associates for Public Health and Health Oversight Activities During The COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency - April 2, 2020

OCR Issues Bulletin on Civil Rights Laws and HIPAA Flexibilities That Apply During the COVID-19 Emergency - March 28,2020

OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure First Responders and Others Receive Protected Health Information about Individuals Exposed to COVID-19 - March 24, 2020

OCR Issues Guidance on Telehealth Remote Communications Following Its Notification of Enforcement Discretion - March 20, 2020

OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency - March 17, 2020

Health Care Provider Pays $100,000 Settlement to OCR for Failing to Implement HIPAA Security Rule Requirements - March 3, 2020

HHS Issues Notice of Violation to California for its Abortion Coverage Mandate - January 24, 2020

HHS OCR Secures Voluntary Resolution with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System to Strengthen its Provision of Auxiliary Aids and Services to Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing - January 16, 2020

OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure Equal Access to Emergency Services and the Appropriate Sharing of Medical Information Following Puerto Rico Earthquakes - January 09, 2020

Ambulance Company Pays $65,000 to Settle Allegations of Longstanding HIPAA Noncompliance - December 30, 2019

HHS OCR Secures Voluntary Resolution with Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to Strengthen Language Access for LEP Individuals - December 19, 2019

OCR Settles Second Case in HIPAA Right of Access Initiative – December 12, 2019

HHS OCR Secures Voluntary Resolution and Ensures Child Welfare Programs in the Oregon Department of Human Services Protect Parents with Disabilities from Discrimination - December 4, 2019

OCR Secures $2.175 Million HIPAA Settlement After Hospitals Failed to Properly Notify HHS of a Breach of Unsecured Protected Health Information - November 26, 2019

OCR Imposes a $1.6 Milhttps://cms-drupal-hhs-prod.cloud.hhs.gov/admin/workbench/create/node/add/officelion Civil Money Penalty against Texas Health and Human Services Commission for HIPAA Violations - November 7, 2019

Failure to Encrypt Mobile Devices Leads to $3 Million HIPAA Settlement - November 5, 2019

HHS Office for Civil Rights Secures Corrective Action and Ensures Florida Orthopedic Practice Protects Patients with HIV from Discrimination - October 30, 2019

OCR Imposes a $2.15 Million Civil Money Penalty against Jackson Health System for HIPAA Violations - October 23, 2019

Dental Practice Pays $10,000 to Settle Social Media Disclosures of Patients’ Protected Health Information - October 2, 2019

OCR Settles First Case in HIPAA Right of Access Initiative - September 9, 2019

OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure Equal Access to Emergency Services and the Appropriate Sharing of Medical Information during Hurricane Dorian - September 3, 2019

OCR Issues Notice of Violation to the University of Vermont Medical Center After It Unlawfully Forced a Nurse to Assist in Abortion - August 28, 2019

HHS Office for Civil Rights Secures Agreement with Michigan State University for Systemic Changes to Resolve Investigation into Sexual Abuse by Larry Nassar - August 12, 2019

OCR Provides Critical Technical Assistance to Ensure that Individuals with Disabilities Have Full and Equal Access to Health Care Services - June 27, 2019

OCR successfully provided technical assistance for individual language and medical services and thus improved the health care of an individual while improving the care of a medical facility.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living and Office for Civil Rights Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision.

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. you are invited to a celebration of an historic victory for inclusion and community Living.  Please vist the Administration for Community Living's Community Living for All: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision page for additional details and registration information. 

HHS Proposes to Revise ACA Section 1557 Rule to Enforce Civil Rights in Healthcare, Conform to Law, and Eliminate Billions in Unnecessary Costs

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed regulatory reform related to regulations issued under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rule would maintain vigorous civil rights enforcement on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex, while revising certain provisions of the current Section 1557 rule that a federal court has said is likely unlawful. The proposal also would relieve the American people of approximately $3.6 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs over five years.

Indiana Medical Records Service Pays $100,000 to Settle HIPAA Breach - May 23, 2019

Tennessee Diagnostic Medical Imaging Services Company Pays $3,000,000 to Settle Breach Exposing Over 300,000 Patients' Protected Health Information - May 6, 2019

HHS Announces Final Conscience Rule Protecting Health Care Entities and Individuals - May 2, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today the issuance of the final conscience rule that protects individuals and health care entities from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs. Just as OCR enforces other civil rights, the rule implements full and robust enforcement of approximately 25 provisions passed by Congress protecting longstanding conscience rights in healthcare.

OCR Issues Notice of Resolution to the State of Hawaii After Hawaii Takes Action in Safeguarding Conscience Protections for Pregnancy Care Centers - March 22, 2019

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it issued a Notice of Resolution to the State of Hawaii after Hawaii took corrective action in response to OCR’s investigation of complaints of discrimination by the state against non-profit pregnancy resource centers.  Complainants, Aloha Pregnancy Care and Counseling Center, Inc. and Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, filed a complaint with OCR alleging that Hawaii engaged in impermissible discrimination under one or more of federal conscience laws when Hawaii enacted the notice requirements of Act 200, a 2017 law which required them to disseminate a government-scripted notice that promotes abortion – a service for which they do not offer, counsel, recommend, or refer.

OCR Resolves Disability Complaint of Individual Who Was Denied the Opportunity for Heart Transplant List Placement - February 12, 2019

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it has successfully resolved a complaint against the University of North Carolina Health Care (UNC Health Care) system alleging that it unlawfully denied an individual the opportunity to be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list on the basis of their disability.  UNC Health Care is a public academic medical center comprised of North Carolina Memorial Hospital, North Carolina Children’s Hospital, North Carolina Neurosciences Hospital, and North Carolina Women’s Hospital.

OCR Concludes 2018 with All-Time Record Year for HIPAA Enforcement - February 7, 2019

Cottage Health Settles Potential Violations of HIPAA Rules for $3 Million - February 7, 2019

OCR Finds the State of California Violated Federal Law in Discriminating Against Pregnancy Resource Centers - January 18, 2019

Today the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it found that the State of California violated the federal conscience protection laws known as the Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments

Colorado hospital failed to terminate former employee’s access to electronic protected health information - December 11, 2018

New HHS Checklist Helps First Responders Ensure Language Access and Effective Communication During Emergencies - December 10, 2018

Recent natural disasters have demonstrated the importance of ensuring accessibility to health and human services for everyone living in the United States, including individuals who are limited English proficient or with disabilities in need of interpretation and translation services.  HHS’ Office for Civil Rights led efforts by the HHS Language Access Steering Committee to develop a plain language checklist to help first responders provide services to individuals with limited English proficiency and individuals with disabilities during emergency response and recovery efforts, in accordance with federal civil rights laws.  The checklist includes recommendations, specific action steps, and resources to assist first responders in providing on-the-ground language assistance and communicating effectively in disasters.  Practical tips range from how to identify language needs in a disaster-impacted community to effectively utilizing interpreters.  

Florida contractor physicians' group shares protected health information with unknown vendor without a business associate agreement - December 4, 2018

Allergy Practice pays $125,000 to settle doctor's disclosure of patient information to a reporter - November 26, 2018

OCR Releases “Here to Serve You” Educational Video in Spanish - November 1, 2018

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released an educational video in Spanish to raise awareness within the Hispanic community about the work of OCR.

La OCR publica video educativo en español titulado “Estamos aquí para servirle” - November 1, 2018

La Oficina de Derechos Civiles (OCR) del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos ha publicado un video educativo en español para informar la comunidad hispanohablante sobre el trabajo de la OCR y para destacar los derechos de conciencia y libertad religiosa protegidos por nuestra Constitución y leyes federales.

OCR Launches Public Education Campaign About Civil Rights Protections in Response to the National Opioid Crisis - October 25, 2018

Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a public education campaign on civil rights protections in response to the national opioid crisis.  The materials inform the public about civil rights protections that may apply to a person in recovery from an opioid addiction and ensure that covered entities are aware of their obligation to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws.

Anthem pays OCR $16 Million in record HIPAA settlement following largest health data breach in history – October 15, 2018

Unauthorized Disclosure of Patients’ Protected Health Information During ABC Documentary Filming Results in Multiple HIPAA Settlements Totaling $999,000 – September 20, 2018

A previous version of this release mistakenly identified the TV series as  “Boston Med.”  “Boston Med,” also an ABC television series, was not involved in this investigation

OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure Equal Access to Emergency Services and the Appropriate Sharing of Medical Information During Hurricane Florence

In preparation for Hurricane Florence, OCR has issued a press release providing resources and effective practices to help emergency responders and officials effectively serve at-risk populations and ensure that the whole community is included in emergency response and recovery efforts.  OCR continues to coordinate with our sister agencies and federal partners to make sure that responsible officials are mindful of all segments of the community as they prepare for disaster response in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence.

Judge rules in favor of OCR and requires a Texas cancer center to pay $4.3 million in penalties for HIPAA violations - June 18, 2018

Consequences for HIPAA violations don’t stop when a business closes -  February 13, 2018

Five breaches add up to millions in settlement costs for entity that failed to heed HIPAA’s risk analysis and risk management rules - February 1, 2018 

HHS Takes Major Actions to Protect Conscience Rights and Life - January 19, 2018

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division - January 18, 2018

The HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Administration for Community Living (ACL), and OCR, have jointly publish a report entitled “Ensuring Beneficiary Health and Safety in Group Homes Through State Implementation of Comprehensive Compliance Oversight” – January 17, 2018

Failure to protect the health records of millions of people costs entity millions of dollars - December 28, 2017

OCR works with DOJ to ensure federally funded medical center provides communication services for deaf and hard of hearing patients  - December 20, 2017

HHS Office for Civil Rights Issues Guidance on how HIPAA Allows Information Sharing to Address the Opioid Crisis  - October 27, 2017

OCR Addresses National Origin Discrimination in Alabama Child Welfare Programs - October 25, 2017

HHS Office for Civil Rights Enters into Agreement with Oklahoma Nursing Home to Protect Patients with HIV/AIDS from Discrimination - September 08, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Response: OCR Identifies Practices and Resources for Emergency Responders/Officials to Help Ensure Individuals Have Equal Access to Emergency Services – August  29, 2017

Careless handling of HIV information jeopardizes patient’s privacy, costs entity $387k - May 23, 2017

Texas health system settles potential HIPAA violations for disclosing patient information - May 10, 2017

$2.5 million settlement shows that not understanding HIPAA requirements creates risk – April 24, 2017

No Business Associate Agreement?  $31K Mistake - April 20, 2017

Overlooking risks leads to breach, $400,000 settlement - April 12, 2017

$5.5 million HIPAA settlement shines light on the importance of audit controls - February 16, 2017

Lack of timely action risks security and costs money - February 1, 2017

OCR signs Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with DOJ, EEOC and OPM -

OCR and DOJ FCS entered into a MOU to promote interagency coordination and to ensure consistent enforcement of nondiscrimination laws in the child welfare system.  This agreement allows for sharing of information, refer matters to each other, and coordinate investigations as appropriate.

OCR and EEOC  entered in MOU to promote interagency coordination and to ensure consistent enforcement of nondiscrimination laws with respect to certain employment discrimination complaints.  This agreement allows for sharing of information, refer matters to each other, and coordinate investigations as appropriate.

OCR and OPM entered into a MOU to promote interagency coordination and to ensure consistent enforcement of nondiscrimination laws with respect to certain complaints involving the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.  This agreement allows for sharing of information, refer matters to each other, and coordinate investigations as appropriate.

HIPAA settlement demonstrates importance of implementing safeguards for ePHI - January 18, 2017
Comunicado de prensa (Spanish)

Presence Health agrees to settlement of $475,000 in OCR's first HIPAA enforcement action for lack of timely breach notification - January 9, 2017

HHS OCR and the US Attorney’s Office of Connecticut Enter Agreement with UConn Health to Ensure Effective Communication - January 3, 2017

Erie County of New York State Enters Agreement with HHS OCR to Ensure Availability of Language Assistance Services for Individuals with LEP - December 22, 2016

Guidance for Ensuring Accessibility of Health Programs and Activities offered through Electronic Information Technology - December 21, 2016

UMass settles potential HIPAA violations following malware infection - November 22, 2016

OCR, Department of Justice and the Administration for Children and Families Release Title VI Joint Guidance Letter for Child Welfare Systems - October 19, 2016

$2.14 million HIPAA settlement underscores importance of managing security risk - October 17, 2016

OCR Releases New Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing - October 6, 2016

OCR signs effective communication Dear Colleague Letter with the Health Resources and Services Administration (08/30/2016)

HIPAA settlement illustrates the importance of reviewing and updating, as necessary, business associate agreements - September 23, 2016

Advocate Health Care Settles Potential HIPAA Penalties for $5.55 Million - August 4, 2016

Multiple Alleged HIPAA violations result in $2.75 million settlement with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) - July 21, 2016

Widespread HIPAA vulnerabilities result in $2.7 million settlement with Oregon Health & Science University - July 18, 2016

OCR issues report on its National HIV/AIDS Compliance Review Initiative - 07/13/2016

Business Associate’s Failure to Safeguard Nursing Home Residents’ PHI Leads to $650,000 HIPAA Settlement - June 29, 2016

HHS Guidance Regarding Patient Safety Work Product and Providers’ External Obligations - June 23, 2016

HHS Guidance and Resources for Long Term Care Facilities - June 23, 2016

Clarification of Permissible Fees for HIPAA Right of Access - Flat Rate Option Up to $6.50 is Not a Cap on All Fees for Copies of PHI - May 23, 2016

HHS finalizes rule to improve health equity under the Affordable Care Act - 05/13/2016

Unauthorized Filming for "NY Med" Results in $2.2 Million Settlement with New York Presbyterian Hospital - April 21, 2016

$750,000 settlement highlights the need for HIPAA business associate agreements - April 19, 2016

OCR Launches Phase 2 of HIPAA Audit Program - March 21, 2016

Improper disclosure of research participants’ protected health information results in $3.9 million HIPAA settlement - March 17, 2016

$1.55 million settlement underscores the importance of executing HIPAA business associate agreements - March 16, 2016

New HIPAA Guidance Reiterates Patients’ Right to Access Health Information and Clarifies Appropriate Fees for Copies - February 25, 2016

Addressing Gaps in Cybersecurity: OCR Releases Crosswalk Between HIPAA Security Rule and NIST Cybersecurity Framework - February 24, 2016

Physical therapy provider settles violations that it impermissibly disclosed patient information - February 16, 2016

Administrative Law Judge rules in favor of OCR enforcement, requiring Lincare, Inc. to pay $239,800 - 02/03/2016

Georgia Agrees to Ensure Equal Access for Individuals with Disabilities to Foster and Adoption Programs and Services - 1/11/16

Individuals’ Right Under HIPAA to Access their Health Information - 01/07/2016

OCR Launches Newly Redesigned Website - 01/06/16

Obama Administration Modifies HIPAA to Strengthen the Firearm Background Check System - 01/04/2016

$750,000 HIPAA Settlement Underscores the Need for Organization Wide Risk Analysis - 12/14/2015

HHS Continues to Improve Access for LEP Individuals - 12/1/2015

Triple-S Management Corporation Settles HHS Charges by Agreeing to $3.5 Million HIPAA Settlement - 11/30/2015

HIPAA Settlement Reinforces Lessons for Users of Medical Devices - 11/25/2015

OCR enters Agreement with Three Puerto Rico Hospitals to Ensure Access to Auxiliary Aids and Services - 10/26/15

OCR Invites Developers to Ask Questions about HIPAA Privacy and Security - 10/5/2015

OCR Issues Proposed Rule on Nondiscrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act

Note that the comment period ended at midnight on November 9, 2015. The NPRM is available for review at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=HHS-OCR-2015-0006

$750,000 HIPAA Settlement Emphasizes the Importance of Risk Analysis and Device and Media Control Policies - 9/2/2014

HHS and DOJ Issue Disability Rights Technical Assistance on Child Welfare - 8/10/2015

Arizona Agrees to Improve Immigrant Access to Federal Public Benefits Programs - 07/16/15

Brooklyn Hospital Center Implements Non-Discriminatory Practices to Ensure Equal Care for Transgender Patients - 07/14/15

HIPAA Settlement Highlights Importance of Safeguards When Using Internet Applications - 7/10/2015

OCR signs Effective Communication Dear Colleague letter with Puerto Rico Hospital Association - 06/09/15

HIPAA Settlement Highlights the Continuing Importance of Secure Disposal of Paper Medical Records - 4/30/2015

NEW Guidance on HIPAA and Workplace Wellness Programs - 4/16/15

Version 2.0 of the Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information released - 4/13/2015

OCR and DOJ find discrimination against persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing in Connecticut Hospital - 3/20/2015

Michigan Medical Care Facility Commits to Race Non-Discrimination in Staff Assignments - 02/13/2015

OCR and DOJ find disability discrimination in Mass. child welfare - 01/29/15


Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on April 2, 2020