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SAMHSA Finalizes Substance Use Disorder Confidentiality Rule

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on Jan. 3 issued a final rule to simplify processes related to substance use disorder treatment while protecting patient confidentiality.

The final rule amends parts of 42 CFR Part 2, a longstanding rule dictating how to share patient data related to substance use disorders.

The new rule is intended to improve care coordination and better align current rules with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act by allowing for additional disclosure of patient identifying information in certain cases. Specifically, the rule allows for:

  • easier communication of patient information among providers;
  • an abbreviated notice on redisclosure for patients; and
  • easier disclosure of identifying information to contractors, subcontractors, or legal representatives for the purpose of payment and other operations purposes.

The final rule follows previous regulatory action in 2017 that allowed patients to provide a general disclosure for information on substance use disorder treatment, rather than a limited authorization for a specific provider. Provisions in the rule go into effect on Feb. 2.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Rachel Schwartz is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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