Be Specific with Business Associate Agreements To Reduce Legal Risk

April 14, 2014 – In The News
Medical Practice Compliance Alert

Michael J. Kline and Elizabeth G. Litten were quoted in the Medical Practice Compliance Alert article, "Be Specific with Business Associate Agreements To Reduce Legal Risk." Full text can be found in the April 14, 2014, issue, but a synopsis is noted below.

Despite a compliance deadline nearly seven months ago, many practices have insufficient or missing business associate agreements. As a result, physicians remain vulnerable to HIPAA violations.

Business associates are directly subject to various HIPAA provisions and must sign agreements with covered entities when handling the entities’ patient information on their behalf, according to Elizabeth Litten.

Physicians also require an adequate business associate agreement that can be enforced if necessary to help avoid taking on unnecessary compliance risk. “It’s like a billing company and false claims. You need [legal] assurances that the company is competent,” Litten says.

If faced with stubborn or uninformed business associates who won’t sign an agreement, potential solutions include providing evidence to bolster your position and compromising where feasible.

Physicians can also take their business elsewhere or file a complaint online with the Office for Civil Rights.

“If a business associate won’t sign, see how vital it is to you, and if there are alternatives in the marketplace,” says Michael Kline. If you’ve already signed a contract that puts you at risk, you may need to terminate it, he notes.