• Changes in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • February 26, 2009 | Authors: Arthur N. Lerner; Christine C. Rinn; Thomas P. Gies; William J. Flanagan; Barbara H. Ryland; Bruce O. Tavel; Matthew T. Fornataro
  • Law Firm: Crowell & Moring LLP - Washington Office
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("Stimulus Act" or "ARRA"), signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, contains a number of key health care-related provisions.

    Major changes in health information privacy and security breach requirements. Under the Stimulus Act, individuals must be notified when the security of the individual's personal health information has been breached, business associates will be accountable to the same degree that covered entities are, and criminal and civil enforcement of HIPAA and the expanded law is enhanced.

    Promotion of health information technology. Significant new federal enactments seeking to advance health information technology through the implementation of a health information technology framework and incentive payments to hospitals and physicians to adopt health information technology systems. 

    COBRA subsidies. The Stimulus Act provides a subsidy to help unemployed workers and their families afford continuation health coverage. The subsidy comes with a potential for economic burden for employers, and also increases the complexity of COBRA administration. The COBRA amendments necessitate employer and plan action within the next few weeks in order to assure compliance with these new requirements.

    Support for comparative effectiveness research. The Stimulus Act provides over a billion dollars for comparative effectiveness research, both in the public and private sectors, and creates a new Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The Council does not have authority to establish guidelines for private or public plan payment or coverage.