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Office of the Secretary

45 CFR Part 142


RIN 0938-AI57

Security and Electronic Signature Standards

AGENCY:Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), HHS.

ACTION:Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: This rule proposes standards for the security of individual health information and electronic signature use by health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers. The health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers would use the security standards to develop and maintain the security of all electronic individual health information. The electronic signature standard is applicable only with respect to use with the specific transactions defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and when it has been determined that an electronic signature must be used.

The use of these standards would improve the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and other Federal health programs and private health programs, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care industry in general. This rule would implement some of the requirements of the Administrative Simplification subtitle of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

DATES: Comments will be considered if we receive them at the appropriate address, as provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on October 13, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Mail written comments (1 original and 3 copies) to the following address:

Health Care Financing Administration,
Department of Health and Human Services,
Attention: HCFA-0049-P,
P.O. Box 26585,
Baltimore, MD 21207-0519.

If you prefer, you may deliver your written comments (1 original and 3 copies) to one of the following addresses:

Room 309-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building,
200 Independence Avenue, SW.,
Washington, DC 20201, or

Room C5-09-26,
7500 Security Boulevard,
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

Comments may also be submitted electronically to the following e-mail address: security@osaspe.dhhs.gov. For e-mail comment procedures, see the beginning of SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. For further information on ordering copies of the Federal Register containing this document and on electronic access, see the beginning of SUPPLEMENTARY information.


John Parmigiani, (410) 786-2976


E-Mail, Comments, Procedures, Availability of Copies, and Electronic Access

E-mail comments should include the full name, postal address, and affiliation (if applicable) of the sender and must be submitted to the referenced address to be considered. All comments should be incorporated in the e-mail message because we may not be able to access attachments.

Because of staffing and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission. In commenting, please refer to file code HCFA-0049-P and the specific section or sections of the proposed rule. Both electronic and written comments received by the time and date indicated above will be available for public inspection as they are received, generally beginning approximately 3 weeks after publication of a document, in Room 309-G of the Department's offices at 200 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, on Monday through Friday of each week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (phone: (202) 690-7890). Electronic and legible written comments will also be posted, along with this proposed rule, at the following web site: http://aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/.

Copies: To order copies of the Federal Register containing this document, send your request to: New Orders, Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. Specify the date of the issue requested and enclose a check or money order payable to the Superintendent of Documents, or enclose your Visa or Master Card number and expiration date. Credit card orders can also be placed by calling the order desk at (202) 512-1800 or by faxing to (202) 512-2250. The cost for each copy is $8. As an alternative, you can view and photocopy the Federal Register document at most libraries designated as Federal Depository Libraries and at many other public and academic libraries throughout the country that receive the Federal Register.

This Federal Register document is also available from the Federal Register online database through GPO Access, a service of the U.S. Government Printing Office. Free public access is available on a Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) through the Internet and via asynchronous dial-in. Internet users can access the database by using the World Wide Web, http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/, by using local WAIS client software, or by telnet to swais.access.gpo.gov, then login as guest (no password required). Dial-in users should use communications software and modem to call (202) 512-1661; type swais, then login as guest (no password required).



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