HHS Finalizes New Provisions to Enhance Integrated Care, Confidentiality for Patients with SUD

February 12, 2024

On February 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), finalized modifications to the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Patient Records regulations, which protects the privacy of patients' SUD treatment records. Specifically, the final rule increases coordination among providers treating patients for SUDs, strengthens confidentiality protections through civil enforcement, and enhances integration of behavioral health information with other medical records to improve patient health outcomes.

The final rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2024.

The final rule includes the following modifications to 42 CFR part 2:

  • Permits use and disclosure of Part 2 records based on a single patient consent given once for all future uses and disclosures for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.
  • Permits re-disclosure of Part 2 records by entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and business associates in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, with certain exceptions.
  • Provides new rights for patients under Part 2 to obtain an accounting of disclosures and to request restrictions on certain disclosures, as also granted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
  • Expands prohibitions on the use and disclosure of Part 2 records in civil, criminal, administrative, and legislative proceedings.
  • Provides HHS enforcement authority, including the potential imposition of civil money penalties for violations of Part 2.
  • Outlines new breach notification requirements applying to Part 2 records.

OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer was quoted in an HHS news release saying, "The Final Rule strengthens confidentiality protections while improving care coordination for patients and providers. Patients can seek needed treatment and care for substance use disorder knowing that greater protections are in place to keep their records private, and providers can now better share information to improve patient care."

Click here to access a fact sheet on the final rule, click here to access the relevant HHS news release, and click here to access the final rule itself.

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