HHS proposes changes to privacy rules for addiction treatment

HHS issued a proposal Aug. 22 to loosen privacy rules around the treatment of substance use disorder.

The proposal would update 42 CFR Part 2, which outlines privacy standards for medical records detailing addiction treatment.

The changes would permit physicians to input substance use disorder treatment into a patient's medical history with his or her consent.

"The lack of critical substance use history in a patient's medical record can lead to potentially damaging consequences for a person with a substance use disorder," Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, HHS assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, said in a statement. "This rule aims to ease the sharing of information, reduce burden for providers and increase access to care for individuals while at the same time maintaining important privacy controls."

The proposal comes about three weeks after the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to members of Congress, urging them to remove federal treatment barriers for opioid use disorder, including the "out-of-date" privacy rules.

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