On May 7, New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and Columbia University (CU) entered into the largest settlement agreement to date with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). According to an HHS official, the settlement, which totaled $4.8 million, is part of a more aggressive enforcement period at OCR.

Jerome Meites, a chief regional civil rights counsel at HHS, said on June 12 that OCR planned to ramp up enforcement action in coming months. Although HHS has collected more than $10 million in settlements from HIPAA-covered entities in the past 12 months, Meites said that the past year’s collections “will be low compared to what’s coming up.” Meites, who was speaking at an American Bar Association conference, said that OCR enforcement agents “think they can affect the industry with high-impact cases.”

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