Congress is preparing to tackle substantial mental health reform this fall – and a fight is already brewing over patient privacy.
“Privacy rights advocates say a 1972 law keeps patients’ addiction histories from falling into the wrong hands [42 USC s. 290-dd]. They fear discrimination if the law is altered, and believe patients should have the right to decide who sees their records. … But reformers say the 43-year-old law is antiquated and cumbersome, and makes it nearly impossible to know a patient’s medical history. That hinders the kind of coordinated care stressed by today’s health care payment polices in the interest of lowering costs and improving care.”
Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy offer a compromise in their legislation. Current law requires patient consent each time drug or alcohol abuse treatment records are shared with a provider. Their bill would change that to a once-yearly consent from patients to share the sensitive information within Accountable Care Organizations, medical homes and certain other integrated care arrangements.
– The House companion package, from Rep. Tim Murphy, does away with consent altogether within integrated care networks. That’s drawing the ire of privacy advocates.
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