What We're Reading: Final Privacy Rule Encourages Sharing of Substance Abuse Treatment Records

What we’re reading, January 17, 2017: a newly finalized federal rule eases record sharing of drug abuse treatment between providers; numerous rallies in support of Obamacare draw thousands across the nation; HHS nominee Representative Tom Price allegedly introduced a Congress bill that favored his stock holdings.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a final privacy rule that makes it easier for a patient’s history of substance abuse treatment to be shared between providers. The new rule allows patients to sign 1 consent form sharing their information with their treatment providers, in contrast with the old rule, 42 CFR Part 2, which required patients to consent each time their records were accessed or shared. In a video interview with The American Journal of Managed Care® in October, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors Matt Salo said the 42 CFR Part 2 rule posed a danger when doctors prescribed opioids without knowing a patient’s treatment history.

Concerned protesters nationwide have been attending rallies in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as Congress moves forward with the law’s planned repeal. One large rally in Michigan featured Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who energized the crowd of thousands to voice their opposition to the repeal. Similar events took place in Boston and Richmond led by speakers Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Senator Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, respectively. The rallies, collectively called “Our First Stand” by Sanders, also allowed citizens to tell their stories of how the ACA had helped them.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary, Representative Tom Price, R-Georgia, may have another stock-related ethics issue to confront in his confirmation hearings. According to CNN, Price bought several thousand dollars of stock in a medical device manufacturer last March, then introduced a bill in Congress less than a week later that would help the company’s financial prospects. CNN determined that after Price offered the bill, “the company’s political action committee donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign.”