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HIPAA Compliance


THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ("Protected Health Information") ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION.

PLEASE REVIEW THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY.

This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how Cumberland County CommuniCare, Inc. may use and disclose your protected health information (“PHI”) in accordance with all applicable law. It also describes your rights regarding how you may gain access to and control your PHI. We are required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI. We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices. CommuniCare reserves the right to change the terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices at any time. Any new Notice of Privacy Practices will be effective for all PHI that we maintain at that time. We will make available a revised Notice of Privacy Practices by posting a copy on our website http://www.cccommunicare.org/, sending a copy to you in the mail upon request, or providing one to you at your next appointment.

The confidentiality of all medical records including alcohol and drug abuse consumer/client records is specifically protected by Federal law and regulations. The confidentiality of mental health patient records is specifically protected by North Carolina state law. CommuniCare, Inc. is required to comply with these additional restrictions. This includes a prohibition, with very few exceptions, on informing anyone outside the program that you attend the program, or disclosing any information that identifies you as an alcohol or drug abuser or mental health patient. The violation of these laws or regulations by this program is a crime. If you suspect a violation you may file a report to the appropriate authorities in accordance with applicable law.

How We May Use and Disclose Health Information About You

Listed below are examples of the uses and disclosures that Cumberland County CommuniCare, Inc. may make of your PHI.

These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but describe the types of uses and disclosures that may be made.

Uses and Disclosures of PHI for Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations

Treatment. Your PHI may be used and disclosed by your counselor, program staff and others outside of our program who are involved in your care for the purpose of providing, coordinating, or managing your health care treatment and any related services. This includes coordination or management of your health care with a third party, consultation with other health care providers or referral to another provider for health care treatment. For example, your protected health information may be provided to the state agency that referred you to our program to ensure that you are participating in treatment. In addition, we may disclose your protected health information from time-to-time to another physician or health care provider (e.g., a specialist or laboratory) who, at the request of the program, becomes involved in your care. Except for emergency services, we will not send your PHI to an outside health care provider who is caring for you unless you give us written authorization to do so.

Payment. Examples of payment-related activities are: making a determination of eligibility or coverage for insurance benefits, processing claims with your insurance company, reviewing services provided to you to determine medical necessity, or undertaking utilization review activities. If you are in a substance abuse treatment program, we will not use your PHI to obtain payment for your health care services without your written authorization. If you are in a mental health program component, we may use your PHI to obtain payment for your health care services without your written authorization.

Healthcare Operations. We may use or disclose, as needed, your PHI in order to support the business activities of our program including, but not limited to, quality assessment activities, employee review activities, training of students, licensing, and conducting or arranging for other business activities. For example, we may use a sign-in sheet at the registration desk where you will be asked to sign your name and indicate your counselor. We may also call you by name in the waiting room when it is time to be seen. We may share your PHI with third parties that perform various business activities (e.g., billing or typing services) for Cumberland County CommuniCare, Inc., provided we have a written contract with the business that prohibits it from re-disclosing your PHI and requires it to safeguard the privacy of your PHI. We may utilize various forms of communication including voice, electronic transfer and email for healthcare operations and payment purposes.

We may contact you to remind you of your appointments or to provide information to you about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Other Uses and Disclosures That Do Not Require Your Authorization

Required by Law. We may use or disclose your PHI to the extent that the use or disclosure is required by law, made in compliance with the law, and limited to the relevant requirements of the law. You will be notified, as required by law, of any such uses or disclosures. Under the law, we must make disclosures of your PHI to you upon your request. In addition, we must make disclosures to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of investigating or determining our compliance with the requirements of the Privacy Rule.

Health Oversight. We may disclose PHI to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits, investigations, and inspections. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies and organizations that provide financial assistance to the program (such as third-party payers) and peer review organizations performing utilization and quality control.

Medical Emergencies. We may use or disclose your PHI in a medical emergency situation to medical personnel only. Our staff will try to provide you a copy of this notice as soon as reasonably practicable after the resolution of the emergency.

Child Abuse or Neglect. We may disclose your PHI to a state or local agency that is authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. However, the information we disclose is limited to only that information which is necessary to make the initial mandated report.

Deceased Patients. We may disclose PHI regarding deceased patients for the purpose of determining the cause of death, in connection with laws requiring the collection of death or other vital statistics, or permitting inquiry into the cause of death.

Research. If you are in a substance abuse treatment program, we may disclose PHI to researchers if (a) you have signed an authorization or (b) the Board and management of CommuniCare, Inc. reviews and approves a waiver to the authorization requirement (such as in cases where clinical outcomes are being researched and no identifying data/information will be released to the researcher). If you are in a mental health program component, information may be disclosed for research purposes only with your authorization.

Criminal Activity on Program Premises/Against Program Personnel. We may disclose your PHI to law enforcement officials if you have committed a crime on program premises or against program personnel.

Court Order. We may disclose your PHI if the court issues an appropriate order and follows required procedures.

Interagency Disclosures. Limited PHI may be disclosed for the purpose of coordinating services among government programs that provide substance abuse and/or mental health services where those programs have entered into an interagency agreement.

Public Safety. If you are in one of our treatment or case support programs, we may disclose PHI to avert a serious threat to health or safety, such as physical or mental injury being inflicted on you or someone else.

Uses and Disclosures of PHI With Your Written Authorization

Other uses and disclosures of your PHI will be made only with your written authorization. You may revoke this authorization at any time, unless the program or its staff has taken an action in reliance on the authorization of the use or disclosure you permitted.

Your Rights Regarding Your Protected Health Information

Your rights with respect to your protected health information are explained below. Any requests with respect to these rights must be in writing. A brief description of how you may exercise these rights is included.

You have the right to inspect and copy your Protected Health Information

You may inspect and obtain a copy of PHI that is contained in a designated record set for as long as we maintain the record. A “designated record set” contains medical and billing records and any other records that the program uses for making decisions about you. Your request must be in writing, except if you are in a mental health treatment program component in which case we will accept a verbal request but record such reviews in the actual medical record. We may charge you a reasonable cost-based fee for the copies. We can deny you access to your PHI in certain circumstances. In some of those cases, you will have a right to appeal the denial of access. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about access to your medical record.

You may have the right to request amendment of your Protected Health Information.

You may request, in writing, that we amend PHI that has been included in a designated record set. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment. If we deny your request for amendment, you have the right to file a statement of disagreement with us. We may prepare a rebuttal to your statement and will provide you with a copy of it. Please contact the Cumberland County CommuniCare, Inc. Privacy Officer if you have questions about amending your medical record.

You have the right to receive an accounting of some types of Protected Health Information disclosures.

You may request an accounting of disclosures for a period of up to six years (excluding disclosures made to you, made for treatment purposes, made as a result of your authorization, and certain other disclosures). We may charge you a reasonable fee if you request more than one accounting in any 12-month period. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you have questions about accounting of disclosures.

You have a right to receive a paper copy of this notice.

You have the right to obtain a copy of this notice from us. Any questions should be directed to our Privacy Officer.

You have the right to request added restrictions on disclosures and uses of your Protected Health Information.

You have the right to ask us not to use or disclose any part of your PHI for treatment, payment or health care operations or to family members involved in your care. Your request for restrictions must be in writing and we are not required to agree to such restrictions. Please contact our Privacy Officer if you would like to request restrictions on the disclosure of your PHI.

You have a right to request confidential communications.

You have the right to request to receive confidential communications from us by alternative means or at an alternative location. We will accommodate reasonable, written requests. We may also condition this accommodation by asking you for information regarding how payment will be handled or specification of an alternative address or other method of contact. We will not ask you why you are making the request. Please contact your clinician or community support provider/worker if you would like to make this request.

Complaints

If you believe we have violated your privacy rights, you may file a complaint in writing to us by notifying our Privacy Officer:

Yvonne Smith, M.A., Substance Abuse Services Program Manager
711-B Executive Place, Fayetteville, NC. 28305
(910) 222.6701

We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.  You may also file a complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services by contacting the regional Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to learn more regarding HIPAA and to learn about specific instructions as to how to file a complaint:

Region IV - AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
61 Forsyth Street, SW. - Suite 3B70
Atlanta, GA 30323
(404) 562-7886; (404) 331-2867 (TDD)
(404) 562-7881 FAX

From the OCR's web site, the following text is helpful:

"Anyone can file written complaints with OCR by mail, fax, or email.  If you need help filing a complaint or have a question about the complaint form, please call this OCR toll free number: 1-800-368-1019.  OCR has ten regional offices, and each regional office covers certain states.  You should send your complaint to the appropriate OCR Regional Office, based on the region where the alleged violation took place."

Instructions for how to file a complaint can also be found at this web address: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacyhowtofile.htm

The effective date of this Notice is August 1, 2006 and is updated/revised annually.


Announcements


CommuniCare is launching our new website to provide more information for our clients, partners and others. New Features will allow easier access to the information you need. A new electronic referral form is now available for your convenience.