HHS Won’t Crack Down on Privacy Violations at Virus Test Sites

April 9, 2020, 5:41 PM

Health-care providers and business associates operating coronavirus testing sites in communities won’t be penalized for some privacy rule violations, HHS said Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services loosened regulations under health privacy laws in order to expand the number of local testing sites available. These sites include mobile, drive-through, or walk-up sites that collect Covid-19 specimens or provide testing services to the public, according to the guidance.

The covered entities, however, must be acting in good faith, such as helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and other state health authorities prevent or control the spread of Covid-19.

“We are taking extraordinary action to help the growth of mobile testing sites so more people can get tested quickly and safely,” Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement.

The guidance is in effect until the coronavirus pandemic ends or the HHS declares that the public health emergency no longer exists, whichever comes first.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ayanna Alexander in Washington at aalexander@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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