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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of November 14, 2019

Title 45Subtitle ASubchapter CPart 160 → Subpart C


Title 45: Public Welfare
PART 160—GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS


Subpart C—Compliance and Investigations


Contents
§160.300   Applicability.
§160.302   [Reserved]
§160.304   Principles for achieving compliance.
§160.306   Complaints to the Secretary.
§160.308   Compliance reviews.
§160.310   Responsibilities of covered entities and business associates.
§160.312   Secretarial action regarding complaints and compliance reviews.
§160.314   Investigational subpoenas and inquiries.
§160.316   Refraining from intimidation or retaliation.

Source: 71 FR 8424, Feb. 16, 2006, unless otherwise noted.

§160.300   Applicability.

This subpart applies to actions by the Secretary, covered entities, business associates, and others with respect to ascertaining the compliance by covered entities and business associates with, and the enforcement of, the applicable provisions of this part 160 and parts 162 and 164 of this subchapter.

[78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.302   [Reserved]

§160.304   Principles for achieving compliance.

(a) Cooperation. The Secretary will, to the extent practicable and consistent with the provisions of this subpart, seek the cooperation of covered entities and business associates in obtaining compliance with the applicable administrative simplification provisions.

(b) Assistance. The Secretary may provide technical assistance to covered entities and business associates to help them comply voluntarily with the applicable administrative simplification provisions.

[78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.306   Complaints to the Secretary.

(a) Right to file a complaint. A person who believes a covered entity or business associate is not complying with the administrative simplification provisions may file a complaint with the Secretary.

(b) Requirements for filing complaints. Complaints under this section must meet the following requirements:

(1) A complaint must be filed in writing, either on paper or electronically.

(2) A complaint must name the person that is the subject of the complaint and describe the acts or omissions believed to be in violation of the applicable administrative simplification provision(s).

(3) A complaint must be filed within 180 days of when the complainant knew or should have known that the act or omission complained of occurred, unless this time limit is waived by the Secretary for good cause shown.

(4) The Secretary may prescribe additional procedures for the filing of complaints, as well as the place and manner of filing, by notice in the Federal Register.

(c) Investigation. (1) The Secretary will investigate any complaint filed under this section when a preliminary review of the facts indicates a possible violation due to willful neglect.

(2) The Secretary may investigate any other complaint filed under this section.

(3) An investigation under this section may include a review of the pertinent policies, procedures, or practices of the covered entity or business associate and of the circumstances regarding any alleged violation.

(4) At the time of the initial written communication with the covered entity or business associate about the complaint, the Secretary will describe the acts and/or omissions that are the basis of the complaint.

[71 FR 8424, Feb. 16, 2006, as amended at 78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.308   Compliance reviews.

(a) The Secretary will conduct a compliance review to determine whether a covered entity or business associate is complying with the applicable administrative simplification provisions when a preliminary review of the facts indicates a possible violation due to willful neglect.

(b) The Secretary may conduct a compliance review to determine whether a covered entity or business associate is complying with the applicable administrative simplification provisions in any other circumstance.

[78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.310   Responsibilities of covered entities and business associates.

(a) Provide records and compliance reports. A covered entity or business associate must keep such records and submit such compliance reports, in such time and manner and containing such information, as the Secretary may determine to be necessary to enable the Secretary to ascertain whether the covered entity or business associate has complied or is complying with the applicable administrative simplification provisions.

(b) Cooperate with complaint investigations and compliance reviews. A covered entity or business associate must cooperate with the Secretary, if the Secretary undertakes an investigation or compliance review of the policies, procedures, or practices of the covered entity or business associate to determine whether it is complying with the applicable administrative simplification provisions.

(c) Permit access to information. (1) A covered entity or business associate must permit access by the Secretary during normal business hours to its facilities, books, records, accounts, and other sources of information, including protected health information, that are pertinent to ascertaining compliance with the applicable administrative simplification provisions. If the Secretary determines that exigent circumstances exist, such as when documents may be hidden or destroyed, a covered entity or business associate must permit access by the Secretary at any time and without notice.

(2) If any information required of a covered entity or business associate under this section is in the exclusive possession of any other agency, institution, or person and the other agency, institution, or person fails or refuses to furnish the information, the covered entity or business associate must so certify and set forth what efforts it has made to obtain the information.

(3) Protected health information obtained by the Secretary in connection with an investigation or compliance review under this subpart will not be disclosed by the Secretary, except if necessary for ascertaining or enforcing compliance with the applicable administrative simplification provisions, if otherwise required by law, or if permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(7).

[78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.312   Secretarial action regarding complaints and compliance reviews.

(a) Resolution when noncompliance is indicated. (1) If an investigation of a complaint pursuant to §160.306 or a compliance review pursuant to §160.308 indicates noncompliance, the Secretary may attempt to reach a resolution of the matter satisfactory to the Secretary by informal means. Informal means may include demonstrated compliance or a completed corrective action plan or other agreement.

(2) If the matter is resolved by informal means, the Secretary will so inform the covered entity or business associate and, if the matter arose from a complaint, the complainant, in writing.

(3) If the matter is not resolved by informal means, the Secretary will—

(i) So inform the covered entity or business associate and provide the covered entity or business associate an opportunity to submit written evidence of any mitigating factors or affirmative defenses for consideration under §§160.408 and 160.410 of this part. The covered entity or business associate must submit any such evidence to the Secretary within 30 days (computed in the same manner as prescribed under §160.526 of this part) of receipt of such notification; and

(ii) If, following action pursuant to paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, the Secretary finds that a civil money penalty should be imposed, inform the covered entity or business associate of such finding in a notice of proposed determination in accordance with §160.420 of this part.

(b) Resolution when no violation is found. If, after an investigation pursuant to §160.306 or a compliance review pursuant to §160.308, the Secretary determines that further action is not warranted, the Secretary will so inform the covered entity or business associate and, if the matter arose from a complaint, the complainant, in writing.

[78 FR 5690, Jan. 25, 2013]

§160.314   Investigational subpoenas and inquiries.

(a) The Secretary may issue subpoenas in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 405(d) and (e), 1320a-7a(j), and 1320d-5 to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of any other evidence during an investigation or compliance review pursuant to this part. For purposes of this paragraph, a person other than a natural person is termed an “entity.”

(1) A subpoena issued under this paragraph must—

(i) State the name of the person (including the entity, if applicable) to whom the subpoena is addressed;

(ii) State the statutory authority for the subpoena;

(iii) Indicate the date, time, and place that the testimony will take place;

(iv) Include a reasonably specific description of any documents or items required to be produced; and

(v) If the subpoena is addressed to an entity, describe with reasonable particularity the subject matter on which testimony is required. In that event, the entity must designate one or more natural persons who will testify on its behalf, and must state as to each such person that person's name and address and the matters on which he or she will testify. The designated person must testify as to matters known or reasonably available to the entity.

(2) A subpoena under this section must be served by—

(i) Delivering a copy to the natural person named in the subpoena or to the entity named in the subpoena at its last principal place of business; or

(ii) Registered or certified mail addressed to the natural person at his or her last known dwelling place or to the entity at its last known principal place of business.

(3) A verified return by the natural person serving the subpoena setting forth the manner of service or, in the case of service by registered or certified mail, the signed return post office receipt, constitutes proof of service.

(4) Witnesses are entitled to the same fees and mileage as witnesses in the district courts of the United States (28 U.S.C. 1821 and 1825). Fees need not be paid at the time the subpoena is served.

(5) A subpoena under this section is enforceable through the district court of the United States for the district where the subpoenaed natural person resides or is found or where the entity transacts business.

(b) Investigational inquiries are non-public investigational proceedings conducted by the Secretary.

(1) Testimony at investigational inquiries will be taken under oath or affirmation.

(2) Attendance of non-witnesses is discretionary with the Secretary, except that a witness is entitled to be accompanied, represented, and advised by an attorney.

(3) Representatives of the Secretary are entitled to attend and ask questions.

(4) A witness will have the opportunity to clarify his or her answers on the record following questioning by the Secretary.

(5) Any claim of privilege must be asserted by the witness on the record.

(6) Objections must be asserted on the record. Errors of any kind that might be corrected if promptly presented will be deemed to be waived unless reasonable objection is made at the investigational inquiry. Except where the objection is on the grounds of privilege, the question will be answered on the record, subject to objection.

(7) If a witness refuses to answer any question not privileged or to produce requested documents or items, or engages in conduct likely to delay or obstruct the investigational inquiry, the Secretary may seek enforcement of the subpoena under paragraph (a)(5) of this section.

(8) The proceedings will be recorded and transcribed. The witness is entitled to a copy of the transcript, upon payment of prescribed costs, except that, for good cause, the witness may be limited to inspection of the official transcript of his or her testimony.

(9)(i) The transcript will be submitted to the witness for signature.

(A) Where the witness will be provided a copy of the transcript, the transcript will be submitted to the witness for signature. The witness may submit to the Secretary written proposed corrections to the transcript, with such corrections attached to the transcript. If the witness does not return a signed copy of the transcript or proposed corrections within 30 days (computed in the same manner as prescribed under §160.526 of this part) of its being submitted to him or her for signature, the witness will be deemed to have agreed that the transcript is true and accurate.

(B) Where, as provided in paragraph (b)(8) of this section, the witness is limited to inspecting the transcript, the witness will have the opportunity at the time of inspection to propose corrections to the transcript, with corrections attached to the transcript. The witness will also have the opportunity to sign the transcript. If the witness does not sign the transcript or offer corrections within 30 days (computed in the same manner as prescribed under §160.526 of this part) of receipt of notice of the opportunity to inspect the transcript, the witness will be deemed to have agreed that the transcript is true and accurate.

(ii) The Secretary's proposed corrections to the record of transcript will be attached to the transcript.

(c) Consistent with §160.310(c)(3), testimony and other evidence obtained in an investigational inquiry may be used by HHS in any of its activities and may be used or offered into evidence in any administrative or judicial proceeding.

§160.316   Refraining from intimidation or retaliation.

A covered entity or business associate may not threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, discriminate against, or take any other retaliatory action against any individual or other person for—

(a) Filing of a complaint under §160.306;

(b) Testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, compliance review, proceeding, or hearing under this part; or

(c) Opposing any act or practice made unlawful by this subchapter, provided the individual or person has a good faith belief that the practice opposed is unlawful, and the manner of opposition is reasonable and does not involve a disclosure of protected health information in violation of subpart E of part 164 of this subchapter.

[71 FR 8424, Feb. 16, 2006, as amended at 78 FR 5691, Jan. 25, 2013]

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