HHS wants to revise a stringent federal rule governing the privacy of medical records of drug, alcohol-abuse and many behavioral-health patients.
The proposed rule seeks modifications to 42 CFR Part 2, 1970s-era regulations that require patients' consent before their records can be shared with another provider. The rule differs markedly from the other key federal privacy rule, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which does not require patients' consent for a provider to disclose their records for treatment, payment or other healthcare operations.
HHS wants to develop an infrastructure for managing and exchanging patient data, with an increased focus on performance measurement and quality improvement.
“We are moving Medicare, and the healthcare system as a whole, toward new integrated-care models that incentivize providers to coordinate and put the patient at the center of their care, and we are modernizing our rules to protect patients,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said.
The goal, HHS said, is to allow patients with substance-use disorders to participate in “new integrated healthcare models without adverse consequences that could result from inappropriate disclosure of patient records.”
The public comment period on the proposed rule is open until April 11. The rules were last changed in 1987.