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HIPAA and Privacy

Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot attorneys regularly advise clients on issues related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Our HIPAA attorneys assist clients in ensuring their compliance with security and privacy requirements for health care information.

Although HIPAA has become synonymous with patient privacy, Alaska health care providers need to be equally concerned with the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA). Together, these two laws address not only patient privacy requirements, but also electronic standardization, security and other requirements governing the handling and transmission of health information.

Federal and Alaska state laws have significant differences in the area of patient privacy. With respect to coverage, for example, HIPAA regulations apply to “covered entities,” which include health care providers who transmit health care information in electronic form (using a standard transaction), health care clearinghouses (e.g. billing companies) and health plans. CMIA, by contrast, has a far broader scope of coverage. In many areas, CMIA is actually more stringent than HIPAA in establishing safeguards for patient privacy.

Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot attorneys routinely design and implement HIPAA compliance plans, which the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) rendered mandatory for both covered entities and business associates beginning on February 17, 2010. In addition to preparing compliance plans, we provide the following specific services:

  • Audits of the state of HIPAA compliance in your organization
  • Provision of business associate agreements and other HIPAA-compliant contracts
  • Preparation of HIPAA-compliant security and privacy policies and procedures
  • Service on an ongoing basis as HIPAA compliance counsel
  • Workforce training

Our HIPAA attorneys counsel providers to determine and ensure compliance with HIPAA and CMIA. We also work with providers who are responding to allegations of noncompliance by state and federal regulators. We have assisted numerous providers in developing compliant notices and practices, including government hospitals, physicians and other medical care providers.


Jennifer C. Alexander