HHS Secretary Alex Azar says current interpretations of the two privacy laws…are not just impeding value-based arrangements in healthcare. They can also get in the way of communities and families working together to combat our country’s crisis of opioid addiction, another top priority for President Trump.
Azar made the comments during a speech to the Heritage Foundation July 26.
Expect a request for information (RFI) from HHS in the coming months about altering the HIPAA Privacy Rule and 42 CFR Part 2 to make it easier for doctors, hospitals, and payers to coordinate in delivering value-based care and fighting the opioid addiction crisis.
Industry advocates including the American Hospital Association (AHA) support amending 42 CFR Part 2 so information about substance abuse patients could be shared with other providers without patient consent. Currently, confidentiality under CFR Part 2 can get in the way of medical treatment for those treated for addiction, advocates argue.
The same day Azar made the remarks to the Heritage Foundation, a bipartisan group of House representatives, led by Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Azar for an update on HHS’ implementation of the Compassionate Communication on HIPAA provision authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act. The provision clarifies when providers could share information with patients’ caregivers about mental health and substance abuse. The letter stated,
As long as misconceptions or ignorance of the rights and responsibilities associated with the privacy rule persist, HIPAA may continue to hinder necessary communication with significant implications for patient care and public safety in circumstances in which providers are legally allowed to share information.
The letter was signed by: Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Salud Carbajal (D-CA).
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