social-security-cardiStock_000029602510_LargeHIPAA and the IRS. There isn’t a whole lot of guidance out there about what to do when the IRS knocks on your organization’s door and asks for protected health information. Should the agency be treated as a cop or robber?

The most risk-averse approach for a HIPAA-covered entity or business associate to take is to treat the IRS as a potential thief and draw the deadbolt when it comes to data requests involving PHI. Such a tack would, among other things, comply fully with HIPAA’s minimum necessary requirement and, frankly, reinforce the Everyman attitude toward the agency. Moreover, PHI produced in response to an information document request (IRD) is unlikely to be treated under 45 CFR 164.512 as a disclosure required by law, a disclosure for an administrative proceeding, or a disclosure for a law enforcement purpose, because the IRS appears to lack the authority to compel compliance with an IRD. However, we should be careful that we don’t always and automatically view the IRS with HIPAA suspicion –  in some circumstances the IRS does perform a legitimate healthcare oversight function for which it may receive PHI without individual authorization, consistent with HIPAA’s treatment/ payment/ operations exception.
Continue Reading Cops or Robbers: PHI, the IRS and IRDs

IRS-tax-formsiStock_000012089386_LargeThere are at least 1,040 reasons to love Florida. Who isn’t drawn to the sunshine, the pristine beaches, the food… and the tax fraud racket? For decades, South Florida has been the Silicon Valley for scam artists, drawn by the weather and the opportunity to make lots of money without actually doing much work. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida holds the highest per capita rate of identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California. While Medicare fraud, mortgage fraud, and securities fraud have traditionally been the bread and butter of South Florida scam artists, tax refund scams are definitely the new darling. But as the IRS recently announced, it’s the dawn of a new day for tax fraud prevention.
Continue Reading IRS shines the light on tax ID theft