For nearly four decades, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has administered programs, policies, and procedures to ensure effective implementation of reproductive rights recognized by Roe v. Wade. Now that the US Supreme Court has revoked Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion, HHS must go back and rework all of these measures.
And that won’t be easy. There’s “no magic bullet” for making the necessary adjustments, noted HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement on Tuesday. The agency is reviewing all of its options, he added. As a first step, HHS has launched a new website to inform people living in states that now restrict abortion of their reproductive healthcare rights and the coverage and services available to them.
Yesterday, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency that oversees implementation of HIPAA laws, issued new guidance to protect patient privacy in the wake of the Supreme Court Roe decision, explaining how HIPAA protections apply to:
- Protected health information (PHI) relating to abortion and reproductive care and clarifying that providers aren’t required to disclose PHI to third parties; and
- PHI on personal cell phones and tablets, along with tips on how to protect privacy when using menstrual period trackers and other health information apps.