As a county government, you may think that you have the protection of sovereign immunity and protection from other governments penalizing you. Your status does not protect you. The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) wants local governments to know that they are not immune from scrutiny for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). HHS recently entered into a settlement agreement with Skagit County, a political subdivision of Washington state with a population of around 118,000 (the “County”), for the County’s alleged violations of HIPAA in connection with services it provides to those residents who otherwise could not afford and would not have access to health care. Under the settlement, the County must pay $215,000 and enter into a corrective action plan.

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