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Sandra Greenblatt Every other month, attorneys, CPAs, and banking professionals around the Miami, Florida area meet to mingle, eat lunch, and learn about new laws, changing regulations, and other current event topics that will have a lasting impact on Florida’s banking and professional industries. The SunTrust Roundtable Lunch & Learn Series for Miami-Dade County is hosted by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management.  At this month’s meeting, on Tuesday, February 18th, Lubell Rosen partner Sandra P. Greenblatt, MBA/HA, JD, was invited to give the keynote speech, in which she presented “HIPAA Is Not Just for Doctors Anymore! (What Lawyers, CPAs, and Other Professionals Need to Know).”

Ms. Greenblatt spoke to an audience of approximately 60 bankers, attorneys, and accountants, most of whom have no background in health care or health law, and highlighted the changes that went into effect recently. Although the Federal HIPAA and HITECH Acts have been traditionally applied to those working in the medical field—either as doctors and other health care providers, hospitals, health plans and health care clearinghouses (known as “covered entities”),  in her presentation, Ms. Greenblatt highlighted the recent changes that have expanded  HIPAA’s influence on a much larger scale. As of September 23, 2013, these Federal acts have been expanded to include non-healthcare professionals and others working with covered entities, including many of those in the audience. 

HIPAA and HITECH outline strict rules for the use, storing and sharing of patient health information (PHI), which is any confidential data collected about a patient—including without limitation, name, address, phone or fax numbers, birth date, and social security number. The information is protected, whether in electronic, verbal or paper format, if it can possibly identify the person. Under the HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule, these business associates must have their own HIPAA compliance program in place, including proper agreements to use and access a covered entity’s PHI, as well as their own policies, and procedures and internal risk assessments; to ensure that the PHI they deal with is securely protected. Violations of HIPAA by business associates expose them to the same penalties now as the covered entities.  Such penalties include fines up to $1.5 Million per category and criminal fines.

Ms. Greenblatt, a Board Certified Health Lawyer, is working closely with the other attorneys at Lubell Rosen to spread the word about the changes made to these Federal laws and to ensure that their clients are in compliance. At the SunTrust Lunch & Learn meeting, Ms. Greenblatt informed her audience that the government has announced that active audits will be taking place in affected companies, with heavy enforcement, concluding “the HIPAA honeymoon is over.” 

At the Florida law firm Lubell Rosen, Ms. Greenblatt and her colleagues provide representation in transactional and regulatory health law matters as well as medical malpractice defense and estate planning/asset protection for doctors and other entities doing business in the health care industry. For a free telephone consultation, Ms. Greenblatt can be reached at (305) 442-1172 or spg@lubellrosen.com.