Health data privacy, including in the context of reproductive health, was strengthened last week when Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the “My Health, My Data Act” on April 27, 2023. Set to take effect on March 31, 2024, the new law aims to address health data collected by entities not covered by the federal Health
Joseph J. Lazzarotti
Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm's Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Trained as an employee benefits lawyer, focused on compliance, Joe also is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits practice group.
In short, his practice focuses on the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security, and management of data, as well as the impact and regulation of social media. He also counsels companies on compliance, fiduciary, taxation, and administrative matters with respect to employee benefit plans.
Privacy and cybersecurity experience - Joe counsels multinational, national and regional companies in all industries on the broad array of laws, regulations, best practices, and preventive safeguards. The following are examples of areas of focus in his practice:
- Advising health care providers, business associates, and group health plan sponsors concerning HIPAA/HITECH compliance, including risk assessments, policies and procedures, incident response plan development, vendor assessment and management programs, and training.
- Coached hundreds of companies through the investigation, remediation, notification, and overall response to data breaches of all kinds – PHI, PII, payment card, etc.
- Helping organizations address questions about the application, implementation, and overall compliance with European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, in particular, its implications in the U.S., together with preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act.
- Working with organizations to develop and implement video, audio, and data-driven monitoring and surveillance programs. For instance, in the transportation and related industries, Joe has worked with numerous clients on fleet management programs involving the use of telematics, dash-cams, event data recorders (EDR), and related technologies. He also has advised many clients in the use of biometrics including with regard to consent, data security, and retention issues under BIPA and other laws.
- Assisting clients with growing state data security mandates to safeguard personal information, including steering clients through detailed risk assessments and converting those assessments into practical “best practice” risk management solutions, including written information security programs (WISPs). Related work includes compliance advice concerning FTC Act, Regulation S-P, GLBA, and New York Reg. 500.
- Advising clients about best practices for electronic communications, including in social media, as well as when communicating under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) or “company owned personally enabled device” (COPE) environment.
- Conducting various levels of privacy and data security training for executives and employees
- Supports organizations through mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations with regard to the handling of employee and customer data, and the safeguarding of that data during the transaction.
- Representing organizations in matters involving inquiries into privacy and data security compliance before federal and state agencies including the HHS Office of Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and various state Attorneys General.
Benefits counseling experience - Joe's work in the benefits counseling area covers many areas of employee benefits law. Below are some examples of that work:
- As part of the Firm's Health Care Reform Team, he advises employers and plan sponsors regarding the establishment, administration and operation of fully insured and self-funded health and welfare plans to comply with ERISA, IRC, ACA/PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ADA, GINA, and other related laws.
- Guiding clients through the selection of plan service providers, along with negotiating service agreements with vendors to address plan compliance and operations, while leveraging data security experience to ensure plan data is safeguarded.
- Counsels plan sponsors on day-to-day compliance and administrative issues affecting plans.
- Assists in the design and drafting of benefit plan documents, including severance and fringe benefit plans.
- Advises plan sponsors concerning employee benefit plan operation, administration and correcting errors in operation.
Joe speaks and writes regularly on current employee benefits and data privacy and cybersecurity topics and his work has been published in leading business and legal journals and media outlets, such as The Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Bloomberg, The National Law Journal, Financial Times, Business Insurance, HR Magazine and NPR, as well as the ABA Journal, The American Lawyer, Law360, Bender's Labor and Employment Bulletin, the Australian Privacy Law Bulletin and the Privacy, and Data Security Law Journal.
Joe served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith on the Missouri Court of Appeals.
OCR Reminds Healthcare Providers and Their Business Associates – You Need an Incident Response Plan!
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month, and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided a timely reminder for HIPAA covered entities and business associates to have a written incident response plan! To learn why another policy is needed, what an incident response plan needs to include, and the reporting obligations, read the…
Long-Term Care Facilities Must Educate, Offer, and Report on COVID-19 Vaccinations for Residents and Staff, According to CMS Interim Rule
On May 11, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services published an interim final rule/guidance to establish COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities. The requirements are applicable to both residents and staff. LTC facilities have already been managing COVID-19 vaccination requirements both…
Small NJ Medical Practice Becomes 18th Target of OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access Enforcement Initiative
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has taken enforcement action against a small New Jersey plastic surgery practice for its failure to timely respond to a patient’s records access request. Putting in place relatively simple policies, carefully developing template forms, assigning responsibility, training, and documenting responses can go a long way toward substantially minimizing the…
OCR HIPAA Guidance For Getting PHI of COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to First Responders
With first responders on the front lines of helping to fight the coronavirus, sharing information about potential exposure to COVID-19 is critical to protecting them and preventing further spread. In these situations, the information shared is most often “protected health information” (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.…
HIPAA Privacy Rule Waiver, Other Medical Information Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the coronavirus spreads across the globe and in the United States, providers, businesses, employers, and others are struggling to understand what medical information they can collect and what information they can share. These are difficult questions the answers to which involve considering factors such as long-standing compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA, ADA, GINA, state law),…
Coronavirus Raises Privacy Concerns for Healthcare Providers and their Workers
The outbreak of a new coronavirus that is believed to have began in central Chinese city of Wuhan and now appears to be spreading to the United States is driving concerns for organizations around preparedness regarding their operations, their customers, and their employees. In the healthcare sector, as with prior contagious disease outbreaks, fears about…
OCR Recognizes Insider Threats to HIPAA PHI, You Should Too
As we have observed here, news reports of security risks, hackings and breaches caused by individuals, terror groups or even countries around the world certainly are important and can be unsettling. But, for many organizations, including healthcare providers and business associates, a significant and perhaps more immediate area of data risk is malicious insiders.…
HIPAA Penalties Change Under HHS Notice of Enforcement Discretion
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notification of enforcement discretion changing its interpretation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 resulting in a reduction in the amount of the cumulative annual penalty limit for violations of HIPAA. Our colleagues in the Privacy, Data…
Small Michigan Medical Practice to Close Following Ransomware Attack
Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) continue to be targeted by ransomware, phishing and other cyberattacks; the consequences of which could be devastating. Those consequences include putting SMEs out of business, which is unfortunately the case for one small medical practice in Battle Creek, Michigan, as reported by HIPAAJournal. Our colleagues in the Privacy, Data…