New health-care privacy laws heighten need for HIPAA compliance in California

Jaikumar Vijayan reports:

Health care organizations that operate in California have two more good reasons to be sure that they comply with the data security and privacy requirements of the federal HIPAA law.

Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law two pieces of legislation that significantly increase state fines for security and privacy violations involving patient health information. The bills — known as Senate Bill 541 and Assembly Bill 211 — also set new breach-disclosure standards and mandate security controls for preventing unauthorized access to patient data.

In addition, AB 211 establishes a new state Office of Health Information Integrity that will be responsible for enforcing statutes governing the confidentiality of health care data and imposing administrative fines on entities that fail to comply with the rules. Both laws were signed by Schwarzenegger last Tuesday — the same day that he vetoed a data breach bill aimed at retailers — and are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.

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