New Proposed Updates to Substance Use Disorder Privacy Rule

On August 22, 2019, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) and the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Disorder Patient Records regulations, set forth in 42 CFR Part 2 (“Part 2”). Part 2 protects and prevents access to patient records created by federally assisted substance abuse disorder (“SUD”) treatment programs.

Part 2 was initially designed to protect SUD patient records so that patients seeking SUD treatment would not be deterred from doing so. Accordingly, Part 2 is more restrictive with respect to the disclosure of patient records than HIPAA and general state privacy laws. However, the outdated regulations create clinical and safety barriers for providers seeking to treat such patients amid the opioid crisis. Thus, the proposed rule seeks to balance the need to both coordinate care among providers that treat SUD and maintain privacy for patients seeking such treatment.

The types of changes sought by the proposed rule include changes intended to: facilitate coordination of care, decrease the burden on patients, provide for greater ability to use patient records for research purposes, resolve existing ambiguities within Part 2, and provide further clarity as to Part 2 requirements. Details regarding the specific changes proposed by Part 2 are available at: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/08/22/hhs-42-cfr-part-2-proposed-rule-fact-sheet.html.

Benkoff Health Law advises health care providers and suppliers with respect to patient privacy laws including HIPAA, Part 2 and state privacy laws.If you have any questions about the Part 2 proposed rule or any other health care regulatory compliance questions, please contact Benkoff Health Law at (248) 482-2780 or via email at [email protected].