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Hospitals should update Business Associate Agreements

A HIPAA privacy case involving Care New England’s Women & Infants Hospital, in Providence, shows the importance of updating Business Associate Agreements.

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Care New England  had agreed to pay a $400,000 fine, and implement a corrective action plan, to settle HIPAA violations. The investigation by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) started back on Nov. 5, 2012.

Physicians Practice reported  that HHS found “unencrypted back-up tapes containing nearly 14,000 patients’ protected health information,”  as well as other  violations.

OCR’s director, Jocelyn Samuels, said: “[t]his case illustrates the vital importance of reviewing and updating, as necessary, business associate agreements, especially in light of required revisions under the Omnibus Final Rule.”

Physicians Practice said: “Despite CNE and Woman & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island having a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in place in March 2005, it had not been updated until Aug. 28, 2015 — nearly two-and-a-half years after the Omnibus Rule was published in the Federal Register.”

To read the Physicians Practice piece, please hit this link,

Lifespan, Care New England revive merger talks


Care New England’s Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, right next to Rhode Island Hospital, owned by rival chain Lifespan. Some observers think that this proximity is financially and clinically bizarre.

Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems, have quietly revived merger talks, Rhode Island Public Radio reports.

Timothy Babineau, M.D., Lifespan chief executive, told Rhode Island Public Radio that the  talks “are in very early stages’’ and are in response to Care New England’s recent request for partnership proposals.

As Scott Mackay of RIPR noted: “The two large hospital chains, which control roughly 70 percent of the state’s healthcare market, have been down this read twice before, only to see the efforts crash amid a series of state regulatory and financial challenges.”

“The recent evolution of medical care in southern New England may augur in favor of such a combination now. Obamacare and the expansion of the federal Medicaid program have given hospitals more revenue. Yet, the competition from Massachusetts is, if anything, stronger than ever, with Bay State health providers moving relentlessly to poach patients, particularly those with private health insurance, from Rhode Island.”

“A merger would make sense on many levels, especially in building a stronger Rhode Island-based medical provider network. Many medical observers have long wondered why Women & Infants Hospital, which shares a campus with Rhode Island Hospital, is in Care New England, while Rhode is part of Lifespan.”




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