Health Law Highlights

HHS Issues First Settlement for HIPAA Violations Related to a Ransomware Attack

From Hall Benefits Law, by Anne Tyler Hall:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reached a settlement with a Massachusetts-based medical management company for alleged violations of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules. The company, a HIPAA business associate, will pay $100,000 and comply with a three-year corrective action plan (CAP).
  • The investigation began in 2019, following the company’s notification to HHS about a Gandcrab ransomware attack that had occurred two years prior. The attack, discovered 18 months after it happened, affected the electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) of over 206,000 individuals.
  • HHS found that the company violated HIPAA rules by disclosing individuals’ ePHI without authorization and failing to perform a thorough risk analysis, regularly review information system activity, and establish compliant security policies and procedures.
  • The CAP requires the company to revise its HIPAA policies and procedures, addressing issues like security awareness, training, and regular review of information system activities. The company must distribute these revised policies to all workers who use or disclose ePHI, and promptly report any noncompliance to HHS.
  • The CAP also mandates that the company conduct a thorough risk analysis of potential risks and vulnerabilities concerning its existing system for storing ePHI. The company must document its security measures, adopt a risk management plan, and submit annual reports to HHS throughout the three-year duration of the CAP.