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Brandon C. Ge is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office, where he is a member of the firm’s Privacy & Cybersecurity and Health Care groups.

Brandon advises clients on a wide range of privacy and cybersecurity laws, regulations, and standards. His practice has a particular focus on advising clients – from start-up digital health companies to large health plans – on all aspects of compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Brandon regularly assists clients with responding to security incidents and has successfully represented clients in Office for Civil Rights investigations.

On May 17, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an enforcement action (“Enforcement Action”) against Illinois-based Easy Healthcare Corporation (“Easy Healthcare”), which operates the Premom application, for allegedly violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”). Easy Healthcare has developed, advertised, and distributed a mobile application called the Premom Ovulation Tracker (“Premom”) that allows users to input and track various types of personal and health information. In the complaint (“Complaint”), the FTC alleges that Easy Healthcare deceived users by disclosing users’ sensitive health data with third parties and failed to notify consumers of these unauthorized disclosures in violation of the HBNR. The proposed order (“Proposed Order”), which was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, imposes a civil penalty of $100,000 and prohibits Easy Healthcare from sharing user personal health data with third parties for advertising, among other requirements. As part of a related action, Easy Healthcare has agreed to pay an additional $100,000 to Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Oregon for violating their respective laws.

Continue Reading FTC Announces Enforcement Action Against Ovulation Tracking App Premom

On March 2, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an enforcement action against California-based online counseling service BetterHelp, Inc. (“BetterHelp”) for allegedly sharing consumers’ health information, including sensitive information about mental health challenges, for advertising purposes in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

This latest enforcement action comes just one month after

On February 1, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an enforcement action (“Enforcement Action”) against California-based telehealth and prescription drug discount provider GoodRx Holdings, Inc. (“GoodRx”) for allegedly violating section 5 of the FTC Act and the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”). The proposed order (“Proposed Order”), which was brought by the U.S. Department

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a bulletin to highlight the obligations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) on regulated entities under the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules when using online tracking technologies. The bulletin defines

Earlier this week, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that proposes to make sweeping changes to regulations at 42 C.F.R. part 2 (“Part 2”) governing the confidentiality of substance use disorder (“SUD”) records. These modifications, which implement provisions of section 3221 of the Coronavirus

The Biden Administration is taking action to support access to reproductive health care in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This is occurring as some states seek to restrict or criminalize abortion services. So far, there has been action by the White House, through an Executive Order, and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through guidance on HIPAA and privacy. 

Continue Reading Biden Acts to Protect Reproductive Health Care Services: Executive Order and Privacy Guidance

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is increasing the risk of ransomware attacks and other cyber threats for U.S. companies, and those in the health care industry may be targeted. In a recent analyst note from the Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”), HHS describes the cyber capabilities of Russia, one of the world’s major cyberpowers, and analyzes two malware variants most likely to impact the U.S. health care and public health sector.
Continue Reading Increased Cyber Risk for Health Care Organizations Due to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) announced an enforcement action against Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (“Bayfront”) for allegedly failing to provide a mother timely access to her unborn child’s prenatal medical records. The enforcement action is noteworthy in that it marks OCR’s first

HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) proposed updated rules to clarify the scope of perceived barriers to sharing information regarding treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) among providers, with research entities, and for law enforcement purposes. The proposed changes to the 42 C.F.R. Part 2 (“Part 2”) regulations appear in two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRMs”), which are also summarized in a Fact Sheet. These proposals are part of HHS’s Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, an agency-wide effort to remove regulatory obstacles to care coordination and information-sharing. HHS is anticipated to release proposed rules on HIPAA, the Physician Self-Referral Law and Anti-Kickback Statute by the end of 2019 as part of this effort as well.

The proposed Part 2 updates could have significant impacts on how health care providers, researchers, and health technology companies protect and share SUD information with each other, so interested parties should submit comments on the NPRMs before the deadlines, and prepare to submit comments in response to HHS’s other Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care efforts in the coming months.

Background

Continue Reading New Proposed Rules on Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Data Would Address Care Coordination and Law Enforcement Challenges

Yesterday, the FDA released draft guidance on the management of cybersecurity in medical devices submitted to the agency for premarket review. Noting that cybersecurity threats to the healthcare sector have increased in number and severity, the FDA offered new recommendations for device design, labeling, and documentation that medical device manufacturers will need to consider during premarket submission processes.

The guidance comes shortly after the FDA’s launch of its Medical Device Cybersecurity Playbook, which provides a framework for healthcare delivery organizations to use in preparing for and responding to cybersecurity threats against patient medical devices.

Given rapid changes in technology and increasing innovation in the digital health market, the guidance intends to decrease the risk of cyberattacks that could render medical devices inoperable and potentially harm patients. Comments on the draft guidance are due on March 18, 2019.
Continue Reading FDA Issues New Guidance for the Management of Cybersecurity in Medical Devices