Healthcare Faces New Balancing Act in Sharing Health Data Under Revised FMLA Rules

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Melamedia Audio Seminar Examines Effects Of New Family Medical Leave Act Regulation On Sharing Patient and Employee Health Information Dec. 18 Audio Seminar 1 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern

Current Developments in Employment Law

New Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rules from the Department of Labor put healthcare providers in more complicated positions in determining what information they may or may not share with employers when employees seek leave due to serious health conditions.

The Nov. 17 regulation fails to provide extensive detail on how the FMLA interacts with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state workers compensation laws and state and federal substance abuse regulations -- all of which have their own patient confidentiality requirements.

As a result, healthcare providers will be at the center of attention and at the intersection of a variety of laws with different mandates for protecting patient information.

The FMLA regulations give healthcare providers more discretion in sharing information with employers to substantiate their medical opinions. However, healthcare providers still face new challenges in navigating the interplay of rules they must comply with because the FMLA overlaps with the ADA, state workers compensation laws, and federal and state substance abuse regulations as well as HIPAA.

Under the FMLA, employees must first give their healthcare providers permission to share information with employers, consistent with HIPAA requirements. However, even with a HIPAA compliant authorization, providers may be reluctant to share sufficient information with an employer. .

Key issues are the concepts of "intermittent leave" and "serious health condition" under the FMLA. Under the rules, employees may seek occasional medical leave under the FMLA for their own "serious health conditions."

One problem, however, is that there is no bright line between an FMLA serious health condition and a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or a covered situation under Workers Compensation laws. And it is far from clear how substance abuse laws fit into the category of "serious health conditions."

That means healthcare providers will be confronted with a confusing set of requests for information under the FMLA that may also trigger requirements under these other laws.

To help healthcare providers avoid the confusion, Health Information Privacy/Security Alert is sponsoring a 90-minute audio seminar:

Sharing Health Information Under the New FMLA Rules

Participants will be briefed on:

  • What healthcare providers should require of employers requesting information to assure compliance with confidentiality laws;
  • How healthcare providers can protect themselves from ADA and substance abuse rule violations when sharing information with employers;
  • How FMLA requests for information relate to workers compensation law requests and where they may overlap;
  • What information providers can share regarding employee relatives;

And much more.

Who should listen

  • Human Resources Professionals
  • HIM Professionals
  • Privacy and Security Officers
  • Healthcare Providers and Administrators
  • Healthcare Payers
  • Disability Insurers
  • Labor Relations Professionals
  • HIPAA Business Associates
  • Benefits Managers
  • Third Party Administrators
  • EHR & EMR Professionals
  • State and Federal Government Policymakers
  • Employment Attorneys
  • Healthcare Attorneys
  • Healthcare Consultants
  • HR Consultants

The faculty:
Frank C. Morris, Jr. JD. is a partner with the law firm of Epstein Becker & Green in the Litigation practice where he heads the Labor and Employment Practice in the Washington, DC office. He is also the co-chair of the firm's Disability Law Group. In his career, he served with the National Labor Relations Board in the Division of Enforcement Litigation. He co-chairs the annual ALI-ABA course, "Current Developments in Employment Law," where he presents ADA and FMLA updates and analyses. Mr. Morris has been an adjunct professor of law since 1984 at George Washington University Law School where he teaches Discrimination Law and Claims and Litigation.

Patricia M. Wagner, JD, is an attorney with Epstein Becker & Green's Health Care and Life Science practice, where her practice focuses on HIPAA and a variety of other federal and state regulatory issues. Ms.Wagner also received her doctorate in microbiology and has worked for a number of research institutions, including the CDC.

Moderator: Dennis Melamed, editor and publisher of Health Information Privacy/Security Alert.

Continuing Education credits

  • All seminar participants will receive a certificate of participation
  • 1.5 IAPP Credits - Pending

What is an audio seminar?

An audio seminar is a live event with a Q&A period and access for an unlimited number of participants for each call-in line. Each site is provided with all presentation and background materials and a toll-free number to participate.

Ordering information:

  • Registration with CD recording of event and all background materials: $349
  • Registration alone with all background materials: $275

Order at http://www.melamedia. com

Can't make the Dec. 18 date?

  • The CD recording is available with all course materials and is an excellent educational and briefing resource: $275

Order at http://www.melamedia. com

Track HIPAA Enforcement:
Health Information Privacy/Security Alert offers updates at no cost on HHS's efforts to enforce the HIPAA privacy and security regulations. The statistics include privacy complaints lodged with the Office for Civil Rights and security and transaction complaints lodged with CMS Office for Electronic Health Standards and Services.

Register at


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Katalin Sugar
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