On January 12, 2021, the Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reported that it had reached a $200,000 settlement with Banner Health. This is the fourteenth settlement in OCR’s Right of Access initiative, which investigates claims of patients and related parties that they have been denied access to their health records. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), HIPAA covered entities, including health care providers, are required to respond to a request for access to records within thirty days.
The Banner Health settlement is the third six-figure settlement, following settlements in October 2020 with Dignity Health ($160,000) and NY Spine ($100,000). The remaining eleven settlements have been for less than $100,000, with five $25,000 or less. However, the ongoing compliance reporting required by the settlement agreements may be a more substantial burden than the upfront settlement payment, especially for smaller providers. Generally, the settlement agreements require the provider to revise its policies and procedures, train employees, and provide reports to OCR for a two-year period.