• AAFP Advocacy Focus: Patient Privacy (HIPAA)

    What is HIPAA?

    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, PL104-191) was enacted to protect the privacy and availability of health insurance coverage and medical information.

    HIPAA has had a major impact on U.S. health care and on of the family medicine specialty. The AAFP cloesly monitors any proposed changes to the law so thatHIPAA’s impact remains consistent with its intent.

    The law’s primary goals include:

    • protecting health insurance coverage for workers and their families in the event that the insured employee changes or loses a job;
    • safeguarding the security and confidentiality of patient health information; and
    • establishing standards for the electronic exchange of health care information.

    Title II of the law, known as the "administrative simplification" provision, requires national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. The standards are meant to improve health care efficiency and effectiveness by encouraging the use of electronic data interchange in the nation’s health care system.

    Why We Fight

    Insurance portability is vital to primary care patients, and the Academy is committed to improving the efficient exchange of medical data.

    Patient privacy and smart data exchange are crucial to addressing the opioid crisis. The AAFP thereforesupports policies that allow physicians to access a patient’s substance use and treatment history, ensuring appropriate, and safe treatment.

    The Academy remains supportive of HIPAA’s patient privacy objectives, provided these regulations do not undermine quality of care and are balanced against the practical realities that family physicians face.


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