Fi­nal rule ex­pected on pri­vacy rule for sub­stance abuse pa­tients

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Joseph Conn

A new reg­u­la­tion meant to re­lax re­stric­tions on shar­ing the records of drug and al­co­hol abuse pa­tients could be the epi­logue to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s legacy for health­care in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get has been re­view­ing an amend­ment to 42 CFR Part 2, which bans the dis­clo­sure of records of drug and al­co­hol abuse pa­tients in fed­er­ally funded pro­grams with­out pa­tient con­sent.

In Fe­bru­ary, HHS and the Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­posed that pa­tient-con­sent re­quire­ments al­low a health­care or­ga­ni­za­tion as well as a named physi­cian or other provider to view and use that pa­tient’s sub­stance abuse treat­ment records.

Be­cause sub­stance abuse pa­tients fre­quently have be­hav­ioral health needs, many be­hav­ioral health providers abide by 42 CFR Part 2 rules as a de­fault po­si­tion.

The re­quire­ment for ad­di­tional con­sent prior to re-dis­clo­sure re­mained in the pro­posed rule. But the fi­nal rule has been kept un­der wraps, ac­cord­ing to Deb­o­rah Reid, se­nior health pol­icy at­tor­ney for the Le­gal Ac­tion Cen­ter.

SAMHSA spokesman Brad Stone said he hopes the fi­nal rule will be pub­lished “sooner rather than later.”

There are 106 rules and ap­provals pend­ing be­fore the OMB, ac­cord­ing to its web­site. More than a third have been there for 90 days or more. Obama’s last day in of­fice is Jan. 20.

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