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Top OCR HIPAA official leaves post

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A top Office for Civil Rights (OCR) official who played a big role in shaping law and regulations surrounding HIPAA has left the government for a position with a law firm.

Adam H. Greene, a 12-year health law veteran and key regulator for the HIPAA privacy and security enforcer under the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), is joining the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in their Washington, D.C. office, effective May 16, the law office announced in a press release Monday, May 9.

During the past five years at OCR, Greene, according to the release, has been one of the preeminent national experts on privacy, security and breach notification, speaking on behalf of OCR to consumer and industry associations at more than 15 conferences since the beginning of 2010.

Last December, Greene, a senior health information technology and privacy specialist at OCR, indicated that HHS planned to release final rules regarding HITECH and HIPAA in 2011.

Greene told an audience at the “2010 ONC Update” that he doesn’t know the specific time in 2011 the rules would be released but added that they would be published “contemporaneously.” OCR’s intention is to avoid staggering compliance dates.

The final rules to which Greene alluded were:

  • Breach notification
  • Enforcement
  • HIPAA HITECH (modifications to privacy and security rules)

The rules had yet to be released as of Monday.

Greene also said a proposed rule on accounting of disclosures of EHRs will be released in 2011. HITECH calls for OCR to expand the HIPAA accounting disclosures provision to add treatment, payment, and healthcare operations disclosures when they’re through an EHR. HITECH calls on the HHS secretary to balance the interest of individuals who want to learn the information versus the burden on covered entities.

“I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my career,” Greene said in the release. “The ability to join the established healthcare practice at Davis Wright Tremaine and develop a top-tier HIPAA and HIT compliance practice advising the private sector is a great opportunity for me.”

At HHS, Greene was responsible for determining how the HIPAA rules apply to new and emerging health information technologies, according to the release.

“Adam brings an invaluable base of knowledge to our clients – an internal understanding of policy development and enforcement of HIPAA, Health IT, and related regulations,” Bob Homchick, chair of Davis Wright Tremaine’s health law practice, said in the release. “He’ll be second-to-none when it comes to advising private-sector companies on building effective compliance models.”

An e-mail to OCR about Greene’s departure was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

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