HHS Contemplates HIPAA Changes in Wake of Dobbs

  • A coalition of 24 AGs filed a comment letter in support of an HHS proposal to increase protections on patients’ reproductive health information by amending the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. The amendment would prohibit the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) for investigations into an individual’s efforts to obtain reproductive healthcare if the patient seeking care is in a state where abortion is legal, or if the patient is seeking federally-protected reproductive healthcare.
  • In the letter, the AGs urge that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision necessitates robust privacy protections to ensure that abortion opponents do not utilize the increasing digitization of patients’ healthcare information to surveil health care decisions for possible illegality.
  • The AGs provide recommendations to the proposed rule, including a broad definition of “reproductive health,” prohibitions against certain disclosures of PHI related to reproductive health, the requirement for attestation of proper use of PHI, as well as the creation of a centralized platform that would inform individuals and providers of their legal rights with respect to reproductive healthcare.