I am sitting in a webinar regarding the federal Omnibus Final Rule which was published January 25, 2013 (compliance date is September 23, 2013). This rule made modifications to several other federal rules such as HIPAA, HITECH and GINA (Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act).
There were two small bombs that were dropped of which, I admit, I was previously unaware:
- The omnibus final rule now has officially and expressly stated that genetic information is protected health information.
The omnibus final rule specified that genetic information could not be used for underwriting purposes. Specifically:
- The Rule prohibits the use or disclosure of genetic information for underwriting purposes by all health plans, except long-term care plans.
- Terms and definitions in the Rule track regulations prohibiting discrimination in health coverage based on genetic information.
(see press release at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2013pres/01/20130117b.html and the final rule at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-25/pdf/2013-01073.pdf)