April 12, 2016 – The Legal Action Center (LAC) submitted comments yesterday to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in response to its Proposed Rule to amend regulations governing the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records (42 C.F.R. Part 2). SAMHSA is seeking to modernize the regulations while also maintaining critical patient privacy protections. LAC believes SAMHSA struck an appropriate balance between facilitating the sharing health information and protecting patients.
LAC’s comments included both recommendations and requests for clarification on topics including: revised and new definitions; notice to patients about their confidentiality rights; consent requirements; the prohibition on re-disclosure; medical emergency and research exceptions to the consent requirements; reporting of suspected abuse and neglect; and the need for increased education about and enforcement of the law. LAC looks forward to continuing to work with stakeholders and SAMHSA to ensure that patient rights are protected.