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OCR Imposes $4.3M Penalty for Violation of HIPAA/HITECH Privacy Rule

UNTIL TODAY, many health care providers questioned whether HHS and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) would ever issue any significant penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. However, will OCR ever be able to collect the penalties.

Today, HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced a civil money penalty (CMP) of $4.3 million against Cignet Health of Prince George’s County, MD for violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This is the first ever civil money penalty issued by OCR for a violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. It is significant not only because it is the first – but also because of the size of the penalty and the basis for the violation.

OCR issued a Notice of Final Determination on February 4, 2011, outlining the procedure for payment of the $4.3 million civil money penalty. The Notice of Final Determination also indicates that Cignet failed to request a hearing on the matter or reach settlement with OCR. Prior to the issuance of the final notice, OCR had issued a Notice of Proposed Determination on October 20, 2010, which details the basis for the penalty, details the findings of fact, grounds for violation of HIPAA, and calculation of the penalty amount.Continue reading…

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