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Substance Use Disorder and Patient Confidentiality, Disclosure Rule Updated

January 5, 2018
SAMHSA has updated its final rule, easing practitioners' ability to share patient information with caregivers and insurance providers.

A PPM Brief 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Health and Human Services Department has clarified its January 2017 final rule (82 FR 6052) on the confidentiality of substance use disorder and patient records. Under the updated rule (83 FR 239),  which takes effect February 2, 2018, providers and insurance carriers will better be able to share information with caregivers, although still require a patient’s permission for such disclosures.


Those handling audits and evaluations involving Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP will have increased disclosure capabilities as well. Finally, changes to the rule aim to assist users of electronic health records by making abbreviated notice of prohibition on re-disclosure more easily accommodated.

“This final rule underscores our commitment to ensuring persons with substance use disorders receive integrated and coordinated care,” said Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the US Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, in a SAMHSA press release. “This rule will permit healthcare providers, with patients’ consent, to more easily conduct such activities as quality improvement, claims management, patient safety, training, and program integrity efforts.”

The rule is based on a period of public comments and aimed at aligning with new health privacy rules, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. 

Last updated on: January 5, 2018
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