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OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Community-Based Testing Sites During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for violations of the HIPAA Rules against covered entities or business associates in connection with the good faith participation in the operation of COVID-19 testing sites during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.  This exercise of enforcement discretion is effective immediately, but has a retroactive effect to March 13, 2020.

This Notification was issued to support certain covered health care providers, including some large pharmacy chains, and their business associates that may choose to participate in the operation of a Community Based-Testing Site (CBTS), which includes mobile, drive-through, or walk-up sites that only provide COVID-19 specimen collection or testing services to the public.

“We are taking extraordinary action to help the growth of mobile testing sites so more people can get tested quickly and safely,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director.  “President Trump has ordered the federal government to use every tool available to help save lives during this crisis, and this announcement is another concrete example of putting the President’s directive into action,” Severino added.

The Notification of Enforcement Discretion on CBTS during the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/notification-enforcement-discretion-community-based-testing-sites.pdf.

OCR’s COVID-19 webpage and materials concerning the continued enforcement of civil rights laws and HIPAA during this public health emergency can be found at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/hipaa-covid19/index.html.

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Author: HHS Press Office

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