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Thread Topic: HIPAA Compliance Issue
Topic Originator: Dan Young
Post Date August 4, 2006 @ 12:53 PM
HIPAA Compliance Issue

Dan Young
August 4, 2006 @ 12:53 PM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

My issue is a simple one, but with long term consequences.  I want to know how HIPAA allows offshore billing when everyone knows that foreign entities are not under the jurisdiction of US laws.

My billing company must be HIPAA compliant in order to do business with providers.  When a provider uses offshore billing services, there is no way to assure that the foreign intity will follow US laws.  Therefore the very usage of a billing company in India, Pakistan, Israel, Philipines, etc. constitutes a violation of HIPAA.

My question to the OIG is this:  What is the purpose of HIPAA if not to regulate how providers do business, and assuring that offshore companies are compliant with US laws?  Let me state this again:  No offshore company must follow US laws, therefore by extarapolation, providers who use offshore billing companies should be in violation of HIPAA.

If I am wrong, please direct me to the legal documents that state that offshore billing companies are under US law, and how those companies will be held accountable by the US when they reside in another sovereign nation.

August 5, 2006 @ 11:37 AM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

I have seen nothing that states they have to follow US laws so it does make sense that offshore billing would be in violation of the laws.

August 5, 2006 @ 1:21 PM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

Dan, you have hit a nerve that is a sore one with a lot of reimbursement professionals, as well as the more conscientious medical professionals.  

I really feel like the privacy section of HIPAA was a "feel-good" piece of regulation - one that lawmakers who supported HIPAA could ballyhoo when it came time for re-election, because it has absolutely no teeth in it.  First of all, the OCR all but ignores reports of HIPAA violation sumbitted by anyone but the wronged party, and let's face it, the wronged party is almost never aware of any HIPAA violations involving their PHI (and if they are, it's because it's already too late).  I don't think anyone responsible for the conception, inception, implementation, or enforcement of HIPAA really gives a rat's butt about it and the people it's supposed to be protecting.  Furthermore, (FULL DISCLOSURE:  despite the fact that I am a conservative I do not support the current administration) we have a political climate that supports big profits for big business, and it's big business who has the most to gain from offshoring.  Is it any wonder that the OCR is not nearly sufficiently equipped to deal with all the complaints - who expects them to pursue any overseas violations when they can't even handle the domestic ones?

I have made my position of offshoring of medical reimbursement processes well-known on this forum and the other major medical billing forums on the web. I am appalled that I seldom get a response after stating my opinions of offshoring medical billing - I would like to think that it's becuase I scare people off with my rabid attacks!  But sadly, I think it's just because people are ignorant and/or complacent.  Of course, then there's forums like this one that seem to actually cater to the offshorer and their promoters and marketers.  I also run my own forum and have made it clear that persons who own or promote offshore outfits will NOT be granted membership.  

I wish more people would make noise to their congresspersons about this issue.  I do not normally propose putting constraints on free enterprise but this is something that I have always thought to be a very bad, bad idea.  Don't ask this of the OIG, ask it of your Senators and Representatives!  At your state and national level!

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