SAMHSA Issues Final Rule on the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Treatment Information

January 13, 2017 – The Legal Action Center (“LAC”) welcomes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (“SAMHSA”) release of a Final Rule that aims to modernize federal regulations governing the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records, while maintaining essential privacy protections. The Final Rule, released on January 13, 2017, updates regulations codified at 42 C.F.R. Part 2. It will be formally published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2017.

LAC commends SAMHSA’s efforts to protect sensitive health information while responding to a changing health care environment, which has seen increasingly integrated health care delivery settings and practices and widespread exchange of electronic health data. Previously, SAMHSA solicited input on how to balance the confidentiality of substance use disorder information with the realities of a changing health care environment by holding a June 2014 Listening Session for stakeholders, through which SAMHSA received both oral and written feedback. SAMHSA provided another opportunity for input when it released a Proposed Rule amending 42 C.F.R. Part 2 in February 2016, which generated responses from 375 commenters.

While we are analyzing the current Final Rule, LAC joins in with those who are committed to meeting the challenge of facilitating communication between providers, integrating health care, and improving health outcomes. We recognize that the core confidentiality protections of people with substance use disorders should be protected, so that individuals can seek and receive care without fear of suffering discrimination, criminal prosecution or other harm. We look forward to completing our review of the Final Rule and providing the details of our findings.

The Final Rule can be found here.

Media Contact: Deborah Reid
phone: 202-544-5478
email: [email protected]

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