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Quick Takes (New HIPAA Resource, For-Profit Institutions Oversight, & EU Net Neutrality Vote)

HHS Releases Tool to Comply with HIPAA Risk Assessment Requirement

On March 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new resources on risk analysis requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule. This rule determines how covered businesses or organizations maintain electronic personally identifiable health information within their systems. One requirement of the rule is that businesses and organizations under its jurisdiction conduct risk assessments to review the safeguards they have in place and try to identify possible vulnerabilities in their security policies. HHS released an online template that walks these organizations through such a risk assessment and helps them ask the questions necessary to fully follow HIPAA regulations. HHS also released instructional videos to provide more information on the tool and compliance with the rule.


Lawmakers Push for Oversight Committee on For-Profit Colleges

Three Democratic Congressional lawmakers are calling for a federal committee to oversee for-profit colleges. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IW) introduced S. 2204, the Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act, which would create such a committee made up of representatives from nine federal agencies. The committee would work to improve communication and coordination between federal and state regulators investigating for-profit institutions. The committee would report to Congress annually on actions taken by state or federal entities to enforce laws regulating for-profit colleges, complaints against these institutions, and recommendations to increase accountability and quality. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced an identical House companion bill, H.R. 4391.


European Union Votes to Protect Net Neutrality

On April 3, European lawmakers voted to protect net neutrality for all 28 members of the European Union. Addressing similar issues to those currently under discussion in the United States, the rules will prohibit telecommunications companies from discriminating against certain providers and content, as well as from charging different rates for access to their Internet pipelines. Lawmakers in the European Parliament said telecom companies had already begun promoting different service providers and content over others, necessitating the Parliament’s action. While this vote was a success for content providers and consumer advocacy groups, the next European Parliament to be elected in May will still have to give final consent to the proposal before it can be implemented.