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HHS adopts substance use disorder regulatory reforms for more coordinated care


The Department of Health and Human Services today adopted the revised Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulation, or 42 CFR Part 2.

The updated rule continues to ensure that individuals with substance use disorder get the care they need while maintaining confidentiality protections against unauthorized disclosure and use.

It will help healthcare providers coordinate care, manage claims and ensure quality improvement, patient safety and proper training.

The basic framework of the rule will not change with the revisions, according to HHS. Part 2 still prohibits the use of SUD patient records in criminal cases against them without a court order. It also restricts the release of SUD treatment records without written consent from the patient, unless authorized in the context of a medical emergency, scientific research, audit, program evaluation or court order.


This revision falls under the Deputy Secretary’s Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, which has the goal of reducing the burden felt by governmental regulations by incentivizing coordinated care.

Through the initiative, HHS and other agencies have looked into how regulations can be revised to better coordinate and improve patient care.

Before these updates, Part 2 was so complex that some providers chose not to serve these patients.


In 2017, almost 20 million Americans aged 12 and older battled a SUD, according to the American Addiction Centers.

In response to the prevalence of SUDs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has implemented a number of programs with the end goal of reducing “the impact of substance misuse and mental illness on America’s communities,” according to its website.

In April, SAMHSA released $110 million in emergency grants to make sure SUD patients and people with serious mental illnesses had access to treatments during the pandemic.


“This reform will help make it easier for Americans to discuss substance use disorders with their doctors, seek treatment, and find the road to recovery,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “President Trump has made the availability of treatment for Americans with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, a priority. Thanks to the valuable input of stakeholders, our final rule will make it easier for Americans to seek and receive treatment while lifting burdens on providers and maintaining important privacy protections.”

Twitter: @HackettMallory
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