HIPAA Enforcers Request 55% Funding Increase to Strengthen Enforcement

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is sounding the horn for change, claiming that the current fines in place for organizations are too low to spur necessary compliance (reference). In addition to asking for increased penalties, the agency asks for funding boosts and injunctive relief.

Who is the OCR, and what is their current role? 

Currently, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a small player in the overall picture of the federal government. However, it does affect HIPAA-covered entities and business associates. If Congress agrees to the OCR’s request for greater fines and jurisdiction, it will significantly expand the impact of the OCR.  

What exactly is the OCR asking for? 

For the 2023 fiscal year budget, which begins October 1 2022, the OCR has made the following requests: 

  • 55% increase in its overall funding. Total funding would total $60.2 million with the requested increase.
  • 64% increase in staffing for a total of 91 new employees.
  • New requested funds would be devoted to enforcement of civil rights laws, supporting hiring additional investigators, and tackling the OCR’s backlog of complaints, including HIPAA violations.

It may sound like all the OCR is doing is crying for more money, but they’re asking for more muscle behind their actions. With the number one goal being compliance, they need more ammunition to make it happen.

PK Tech Takeaways

  • Compliance is more critical than ever, with impending increases in fines for lack of compliance. Invest in preventative measures now to ensure your business complies worth the investment and avoid increasing penalties later.
  • Taking health insurance is a privilege that obligates your business to HIPAA compliance. Practices should be budgeting for HIPAA compliance as a cost of doing business. Cutting corners on compliance and taking health insurance don’t mix, and the OCRs enforcement of HIPAA will get only stronger as time goes on. 
  • Work with a qualified compliance vendor and IT team that understands your industry’s compliance requirements. 

Questions about these potential upcoming changes with the OCR? We’re always happy to answer questions. Get in touch with our team here