Proposed HIPAA Modification Would Facilitate Care Coordination

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A proposed rule released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on December 10 would give healthcare providers more flexibility to share patients’ health information for certain purposes. The rule, titled “Proposed Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support, and Remove Barriers to, Coordinated Care and Individual Engagement,” would loosen HIPAA restrictions on sharing of substance use treatment information and other mental health information with patients’ families, and disclosure of Covid-19 infections for contact tracing purposes.

The proposed rule would also require that providers provide copies of health records to patients more quickly. The required response time under HIPAA for records requests would be reduced from 30 days to 15 days, although a 15-day extension would be possible. The rule also includes proposed reductions of administrative burdens on providers and health plans.

The proposed rule provides for a 60-day public comment period. Even if it is finalized, sharing of sensitive health information related to substance use and general mental health will continue to be subject to different state laws that may be more restrictive.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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