Some providers have come out against a recent HHS proposal that would expand law enforcement’s access to patient records that involve addiction treatment information, worrying it could deter people from seeking care.
The proposal from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would allow courts to authorize disclosure of these patient records when investigating certain crimes, including alleged drug trafficking by a provider. The proposed rule seeks to change a section of complex privacy regulations around addiction treatment, known as CFR Part 2.
“Part 2 was created to encourage people to seek care without fear of legal repercussions or stigma,” the Grayken Center for Addiction wrote. “A change of this nature can have an unintended consequence of deterring people in need of treatment from seeking care out of fear of law enforcement involvement.”
Critics also raised concerns over SAMHSA’s inclusion of drug trafficking as an example of a crime that would be covered by the rule. In the past, crimes that would warrant disclosure of a patient’s record were limited to the patient’s alleged involvement in violent crimes, such as homicide or child abuse, according to Dr. H. Westley Clark, former director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
The larger revisions to CFR Part 2 proposed by SAMHSA in August would also make substance use disorder and treatment records no longer subject to extra privacy laws that pre-date HIPAA. That would allow primary-care physicians to note patients’ addiction treatment history in their regular patient record, among other reforms.
Public comment for that proposed rule, which is meant to harmonize behavioral and primary-care health treatments, closes Oct. 25.
SAMHSA posted both CFR Part 2 proposed changes to the Federal Register on Aug. 26.
Source: Modern Healthcare