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Implementing the Federal Health Privacy Rule in California

Joy Pritts, Health Privacy Project

These three guides and their supplements aim to assist a variety of health care professionals and organizations in their efforts to comply with the the Federal Health Privacy Rule.

The Federal Health Privacy Rule became effective in 2001, as part of the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). In the broadest terms, the Privacy Rule imposes restrictions on sharing health information and creates new safeguards for patients' health information. The Federal Health Privacy Rule affects health insurers, physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and alternative practitioners, such as acupuncturists.

Three implementation guides designed to support the health care industry's efforts to comply with the Privacy Rule were published in February 2002. These guides:

  • Provide background on the value of health information and health privacy;
  • Explain the Privacy Rule;
  • Discuss the preemption provisions of the Privacy Rule and the resulting relationship between the federal rule and California health privacy rules; and
  • Analyze how health care providers, insurers, and health care service plans are required to implement the Privacy Rule and the rights it provides to patients to access and amend their health information in light of existing California law.

Supplements to these three guides were published in December 2002 to address the August 2002 modifications to the Federal Health Privacy Rule. The supplements are intended to be read as updates, rather than as substitutes. All three guides and the supplements are available under Document Downloads.