In response to a massive data breach in 2012 involving over 700,000 people, Utah's Governor Gary R. Herbert signed a new law (S.B. 20) to ensure Utah residents will be notified of the possibility that their individually identifiable health information may be shared with the eligibility databases for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The law becomes effective July 1, 2013.
To notify residents, the law requires health care providers in the state to include this information in their notices of privacy practices (NPP) that they are required to provide under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. HIPAA-covered health care providers should already be updating their NPPs following the final HIPAA regulations issued in January, although S.B. 20 may require Utah providers to act more quickly in updating their NPPs than is required under the HIPAA final regulations, which has September 23, 2013 compliance date. S.B. 20 also requires Medicare and CHIP to check that the notices are in place, and to deny providers access to their eligibility databases if the notices are not in place. The law also gives the state's Department of Health the authority to develop model language for the NPP.
Because of the seriousness of the breach, S.B. 20 also lays the groundwork to assemble a group that will be charged with establishing best practices for data security. Utah providers will need to monitor this development closely, particularly if the "best practices" create standards that are more stringent than those under the HIPAA privacy and security regulations.