Learn about health care compliance in health law and policy degree programs

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Health care regulatory compliance is one of the essential processes within any care provider or related business. Given these rules change over time to reflect new technologies and threats, professionals in charge of compliance must have current and accurate knowledge of legal frameworks.

Fortunately for the organizations seeking informed employees to lead their legal or law-adjacent departments, universities offer graduate-level courses dedicated to health care law. These classes educate professionals on the history, direction and present-day details of compliance demands. Graduates who receive a Master of Laws or Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy can gain the knowledge and experience to implement and oversee compliance initiatives.

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What do students learn in the Health Care Compliance course?

While professionals studying for a master’s in health law and policy at Hofstra Law can learn about current compliance standards in many of their classes, LAW3502 Health Care Compliance is directly focused on this aspect of the medical sector.

Covered topic areas

The coursework examines practical applications of the many legal frameworks that impact care providers, with considerable time and attention given to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, which apply across the health care sector in the U.S.

In today’s globalized world, health care organizations will likely come into contact with rules from outside of the U.S. system. The Health Care Compliance coursework contains information on the far-reaching European Data Privacy Directive and its amendments to reflect the evolving state of information safety legislation worldwide. State-level rules also receive attention, with specific focus on New York and California.

Relevant roles and organizations

The information presented in Health Care Compliance isn’t limited to one job profile or organization type. Law firms, government agencies, care providers, research institutions and health product developers all need personnel who understand the legal rules governing data use and protection in the medical field.

Any organization that intersects with the health care sector will likely need dedicated compliance personnel overseeing their data storage, transmission and access policies. Lawyers who work with medical organizations should also have up-to-date compliance awareness. Researchers and government personnel are also likely to need such experience.

Instructional style

Students in Health Care Compliance receive course information via various methods to make sure they grasp the concepts. In addition to lectures, enrollees perform practical hands-on exercises to gain a more in-depth understanding of the ways legal frameworks interact with the everyday practice of health care.

Projects in the course take the form of drafting sample memos and policies that reflect the real state of health care law. Students propose legislation that would fill gaps or address deficiencies in the present legal frameworks affecting the medical field. Graduates who take this realistic approach to navigating medical law during their studies can comprehend the ways regulations are produced, amended and implemented.

What trends are impacting health care law?

Courses such as Health Care Compliance maintain relevance for professionals in roles that deal with medical law, as these employees have to keep their knowledge up to date as regulations change around them. As with any privacy and information security legislation, medical rules evolve in time with technological developments, and the sensitivity of patient records adds extra urgency to these updates.

New HIPAA fines

While HIPAA has been law since the 1990s, the fines tied to violations of the regulations have not stayed constant over that time. Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set new records, giving companies ever-larger penalties as the scale of data breaches has escalated.

A recent landmark judgment occurred in late 2018, when health benefits company Anthem received a $16 million fine following a 2015 data breach report. Criminals accessed electronic patient health information for 79 million individuals, and an investigation of the intrusion revealed that Anthem had neglected multiple compliance requirements, such as conducting risk analyses and implementing access controls.

The previous highest fine for a breach was $5.55 million and was also fairly recent, handed down by HHS in 2016 when Advocate Health Care Network suffered a similarly large breach. With millions of patient records accessible in large databases, the scale of security issues is only growing.

EHR meaningful use delays

The HITECH Act called for the use of electronic health records to roll out in stages, with organizations taking on new standards every few years. As TechTarget explained, however, recent implementation slowdowns have plagued the expansion of the policy. Over the past few years, industry groups have asked for further delays as organizations have struggled to digitize their records storage at prescribed rates.

Despite organizations’ failure to hit EHR adoption deadlines, use of the technology is up significantly compared to the pre-HITECH era before 2009. Professionals in the health care field will have to understand how to safely store and access these files while determining how the HITECH Act expands the safety requirements set out by HIPAA.

Why earn a master’s in health law and policy online?

Keeping up with the trends shaping health care compliance means working with experts in the field, performing relevant work and improving overall knowledge. Professionals interested in advancing within medical legal or law-adjacent departments or seeking new roles in health care compliance can strengthen their credentials by applying for Hofstra Law’s Master of Laws or Master of Arts in Health in Law and Policy program. Students take courses 100% online, which enables them to continue full-time employment during their studies.

In addition to Health Care Compliance, students will take relevant courses such as Business Transactions in Health Care, which focuses on how medical organization mergers and acquisitions function. Such transactions have become especially prevalent since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Another important course, Medicare and Medicaid Law, gives health care personnel from across the industry a thorough understanding of the way government-funded health programs function.

Organizations that work in the health care field have unique legal requirements to contend with, and the rules change frequently. Therefore, these companies have a persistent need for employees with up-to-date education in relevant regulations. Health Law and Policy graduates may be well-suited to fill today’s open roles. Learn more about these online programs at Hofstra Law.

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

How a health law and policy program can prepare you to advocate for patients

What you need to know about Medicare and Medicaid

SOURCES:

Hofstra University – Online Master of Laws in Health Law and policy – Curriculum

TechTarget – HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System Final Rule (CMS-1694-F)

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Anthem Pays OCR $16 Million in Record HIPAA Settlement Following Largest U.S. Health Data Breach in History

Anthem, Inc. has agreed to pay $16 million