Federal Highway Administration Approves I-70 Project

It took 14 years, but the Colorado Department of Transportation finally received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to move ahead with the construction project on I-70. The project will cost about $1.2 billion dollars, and it will encompass about 10 miles of I-70 from Brighton Blvd. in Denver to Chambers Rd. in Aurora.

The project is known as the Central 70 project; it will demolish 56 homes and 17 businesses, most of which are located in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods of northeast Denver. Central 70 will widen the highway from six lanes to ten lanes when all is said and done; but a two mile stretch between Colorado Blvd. and Brighton Blvd. will be the most challenging, as Central 70 intends to replace the current highway with a below-grade highway. This is driven in large part by the currently existing viaduct, a 53 year old staple of northeast Denver. It is showing significant signs of deterioration, and must be replaced.

To alleviate risks of floods associated with the underground highway, CDOT has created a storm drainage project plan that will benefit the intended underground design; and on top, CDOT plans to build a 4-acre parkland cap. The park will conveniently lie next to Swansea Elementary School’s playground.

With approval from the FHA, CDOT is now able to move forward and request final bid solicitations from four groups of professionals vying for a public-private partnership. The candidate selected by CDOT will be responsible for designing, financing, building, maintaining and operating Central 70. The project will impose on project contractors a 20 percent local hiring target; pay and remodel parts of Swansea Elementary; provide financing related to air filtration improvement for some homes in the area; and contribute $2 million toward affordable housing projects. The 56 homeowners and renters, as well as the 17 businesses that will be displaced will receive relocation assistance, as well as just compensation for real estate owners.

Opposition groups have made several attempts to delay or halt the project, and although one lawsuit over federal air quality standards is still pending, reports suggest the project may begin as early as next year, and is estimated to require about 4 to 5 years to complete.

As one of Colorado’s oldest law firms, Hamilton Faatz, PC has the vast experience and knowledge in condemnation and eminent domain law to fight for you and your property. If your property is in the process of being condemned, our wisdom and experience will ensure you receive the full value of your property.

By: Refugio Perez
For complete article: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/19/i-70-project-denver-final-approval/

HIPAA – Covered Entity v. Business Associates – What’s the Difference? - Business Associates and the Privacy and Security Rules

By: Andrew C. Iverson, Attorney at Law
303-830-0500 office

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) was enacted on August 21, 1996 to protect an individual’s healthcare information when that data is transmitted electronically.  It is commonly known that HIPAA applies to what are referred to as covered entities; entities that deal directly with Protected Health Information (“PHI”), such as health care providers, healthcare clearing houses and healthcare plans.  HIPAA governs conduct of these entities as they use PHI in their daily operations. However, it is not just covered entities that are impacted by HIPAA; persons and organizations that provide functions, activities and services to covered entities may meet the definition of a “business associate” triggering their involvement with HIPAA, which as of September 2014 has evolved to place more responsibility on the business associate, thus more liability as well.

The Business Associate:

A business associate is a person or entity, not part of a covered entity that performs or provides certain functions or activities on behalf of or to a covered entity.  When these functions and activities involve the business associate performing what would otherwise be done by the covered entities, the Privacy Rule of HIPAA dictates that the business associate and covered entity must enter into a contract where the business associate agrees to safeguard the PHI provided to it by the covered entity.  A contract is required, because the safeguard assurances must be in writing pursuant to HIPAA.  Recent amendments to HIPAA provide that business associates are now more likely to be directly liable under HIPAA for a violation, thus requiring that business associates pay close attention not only to the Privacy Rule, but also the Security Rule of HIPAA.  The threshold determination of whether a person or organization is a business associate under HIPAA must be determined.

Common areas of functions and activities performed by business associates include claims processing and administration; data analysis; benefit management; and billing for covered entities.   Services provided to a covered entity may include legal, actuarial, accounting, consulting, data aggregation, administrative, management, accreditation or financial services.  However, simply because a function, activity or service falls into one of these categories does not mean the function or service meets the definition of a business associate.  It only qualifies as a business associate when its function, activity or service involves access to PHI for use or disclosure by the business associate.  Often the service provided is one that the covered entity would otherwise perform, making the determination more clear that HIPAA applies.  Naturally, there are business associates that do not meet the HIPAA definition to require a contract.  For example, a carpet cleaning service would not require a contract, because the cleaning of carpets does not require the use or disclosure of PHI from the covered entity.  Even when a business associate may seemingly not require a contract with the covered entity, a contract may be required.  For instance, if the function, activity or service is being performed on the covered entity’s premises, it could be considered part of the workforce of the covered entity, giving rising to whether a contract is required.

HIPAA Amendment – The Afermath :

Beginning in 2013, HIPAA was amended, pursuant to HITECH.  In addition to the contract mentioned above for business associates, HIPAA now requires business associates to comply with both the Privacy and Security Rules.  HIPAA is now directly applicable to business associates, much like it has been to covered entities.  Business associates are now directly liable for impermissible uses and disclosures of PHI.  In short, business associates now must develop privacy and security safeguards to protect PHI.  The problem that arises is that smaller and less sophisticated business associates have not and may not develop these safeguards and in depth analysis to implement the requirements of the Privacy and Security Rules.  Despite the commentary of the amendments to HIPAA recognizing this phenomenon, these business associates will be required to comply.  On some level this seems like a substantial understatement about compliance, but it is accurate about the nature of many business associates of covered entities.

To avoid penalties and fines for not complying with HIPAA, an accurate determination of whether you or your organization is a business associate is imperative.  If you or your organization qualifies as a business associate, further analysis of your business practices must be done to develop safeguards required by HIPAA, and to develop policies and procedures to protect PHI, for self-reporting for unauthorized disclosures, and designating specific persons for security protocols.  While this is an involved process, the assistance of legal counsel can be valuable component of developing the necessary security, privacy, self-reporting and protocols required by HIPAA.  Please feel free to contact me to discuss your needs and concerns regarding healthcare compliance.