The Impact Of Excessive HIPAA Requirements

ATSI President, Joe Pores Discusses the Impact of Excessive HIPAA Requirements for the TeleServices Industry

Compliance with Federal laws and regulations is important in most industries throughout the United States. The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is one of the laws established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the main goal of creating a set of security standards and requirements that address the confidentiality of Protected Health Information (PHI) and Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI).

With close to 2700 telephone answering services in the United States that employ more than 45,000 individuals, the Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) is the primary governing entity that is a resource for its members to go to, especially for industry trends, education and compliance for a wide variety of regulatory standards.

Last month, ATSI President Joe Pores represented ATSI members while he directly addressed the need for legislative action and discussed in detail the importance of amending HIPAA compliance and requirements, specifically for the TAS industry.

The Financial Burden that HIPAA Requirements Put On the TeleServices Industry

Mr. Pores testified at a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) event, speaking about HIPAA requirements as they pertain to the teleservices industry and more specifically, the impact it will have on ATSI members. He noted the importance of HIPAA requirements and asked for assistance by the National Ombudsman’s office to support ATSI and lobbying for regulatory relief.

Addressing the original intent of HIPAA, Mr. Pores noted that the set of standards is admirable, but unfortunately, the unintended consequences of over-regulating our industry puts a major financial burden on many answering services.

Mr. Pores is confident that the National Ombudsman’s office and the Department of Health and Human Services may be able to provide an exemption for those facing this burden. 

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Listen to ASTI President, Joe Pores Speak to the U.S. Small Business Administration

Many Telephone Answering Service Are Multi-Generational and Find It Challenging to Comply with HIPAA

To support his testimony, Mr. Pores discussed some important facts about our industry as it pertains to the impact of HIPAA compliance costs.

“The average answering service business produces annual revenues are little over $500,000 with differences in profit margins,” he said, stating that many of these companies are multi-generational businesses that have been servicing the local communities for decades. “The compliance training for every employee, hiring a compliance officer, increased insurance premiums and additional hardware and software needed to simply comply with HIPAA. is astounding and costs thousands of dollars every year.”

Additionally, he noted that HIPAA compliance rules put small TAS businesses in a similar financial category as huge hospitals. He also mentioned that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is simply “painting everyone with the same brush” without taking every call into consideration.

Mr. Pores also shared information and examples of calls which are considered in violation of HIPAA rules — leading telephone answering services and call centers to invest in additional software, educational programs, seminars, compliance consultants and legal advice.

The additional expenses, according to Mr. Pores, include “increased cost for additional insurance, employee training and awareness (approximately $1,000 per employee annually), compliance tracking, training of staff and in-house compliance officer, documenting all policies and procedures, reviewing privacy and network infrastructure to identify and protect PHI, purchase of delivery platforms, creating agreements with subcontractors, time spent chasing down medical clients that refuse to sign a business associate agreement and more.”

Small TAS Businesses Need A Lower Threshold Of HIPAA Compliance, Yet Still Be Considered Compliant

The existing HIPAA compliance regulations result in lost business, according to Mr. Pores. He further addressed the concerns he has in terms of the impact of strict HIPAA regulations, even for his Delray Beach call center. His organization accepts HIPAA regulations and ensures full compliance with it, but he believes that the government should provide more assistance to smaller TAS businesses and assist them with being a successful and viable business. “Unfortunately, regulations can sometimes be taken to extremes and affect businesses they never meant to,” which Mr. Pores thinks is the case here. 

Attending the event at the Small Business Association was a great opportunity to have our voice heard by the federal government, especially about an issue that has had a negative impact on ATSI members. ATSI’s advocacy team will continue to follow up and ensure our message is heard in Washington.

For more information about legislative and regulatory updates, please contact our office directly and speak to a member of ATSI’s advocacy team. 866-896-2874.

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