A new regulation meant to relax restrictions on sharing the records of drug and alcohol abuse patients could be the epilogue to the Obama administration's legacy for healthcare information technology.
President Barack Obama's Office of Management and Budget has been reviewing an amendment to 42 CFR Part 2, which bans the disclosure of records of drug and alcohol abuse patients in federally funded programs without patient consent.
In February, HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration proposed that patient-consent requirements allow a healthcare organization as well as a named physician or other provider to view and use that patient's substance abuse treatment records.
Because substance abuse patients frequently have behavioral health needs, many behavioral health providers abide by 42 CFR Part 2 rules as a default position.
The requirement for additional consent prior to re-disclosure remained in the proposed rule. But the final rule has been kept under wraps, according to Deborah Reid, senior health policy attorney for the Legal Action Center.
SAMHSA spokesman Brad Stone said he hopes the final rule will be published “sooner rather than later.”
There are 106 rules and approvals pending before the OMB, according to its website. More than a third have been there for 90 days or more. Obama's last day in office is Jan. 20.