Distribution of Provider Relief Funds, Crisis Stabilization Passes
QUOTABLE “Today, we move one step closer to improving how justice-involved people receive mental health and substance use disorder treatment… On behalf of the National Council, I thank Sens. Cornyn (R-TX) and Blumenthal (D-CT), as well as Reps. Trone (D-MD), Rutherford (R-FL), Dean (D-PA), Reschenthaler (R-PA), Scanlon (D-PA), and Armstrong (R-ND) for continuing to prioritize […]
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SAMHSA Proposes Changes to Part 2 SUD Privacy Rules
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a proposed rule that would change the way substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records are shared under 42 CFR Part 2. Although the Trump administration does not have the authority to fully align 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the administration stated that its proposal aims to “facilitate better coordination of care for substance use disorders, which will also enhance care for opioid use disorder,” according to an official fact sheet on the proposal. Meanwhile, critics expressed concern that the changes to the rule would undermine patient confidentiality and willingness to seek treatment. SAMHSA is accepting public comments on these proposed changes until October 24, 2019.
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Lawmakers Reintroduce 42 CFR Part 2 Overhaul
Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced a bill in both the House and the Senate that would amend federal laws related to the sharing of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records. The bills (S. 1012/H.R. 2062) would change 42 CFR Part 2, the section of the federal code related to this issue, to align it with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Identical bills have been introduced in previous sessions of Congress but have subsequently failed to pass due to opposition from privacy advocacy groups and a handful of legislators.
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HHS Solicits Input on HIPAA’s Potential Barriers to Care Coordination
On Wednesday, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a widely anticipated request for information on how the current Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security rules may impede the transformation to coordinated, value-based health care. HHS is welcoming comments on “how the rules could be revised to promote these goals, while preserving and protecting the privacy and security of such information and individuals’ rights with respect to it.” The announcement suggests that the agency may be considering big changes to HIPAA. Responses to the RFI are due February 11, 2019.
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House Sends More Opioid Bills to the Senate
The House of Representatives this week picked up where it left off in its efforts to advance legislation to address the opioid crisis. The latest House-passed bills will be combined with those that were passed last week to create a comprehensive package for the Senate to consider. Bills that advanced this week include some controversial measures to loosen the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) rule and 42 CFR Part 2, which governs the privacy of substance use treatment records. Other measures that passed related to the expansion of parity protection, and prevention, treatment, and recovery for opioid use disorders.
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National Council Members Highlight Staff Briefing on HIPAA Appropriation
On Thursday, the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG) hosted a briefing for congressional staff on the need for more and clearer information regarding health information privacy laws, including the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The briefing brought together providers, consumers and family members to share stories about their interactions with health privacy laws, and in particular, to advocate for funding of the Compassionate Communication of HIPAA provisions authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016. The National Council is a leading and founding member of the MHLG and was pleased to have two members participate on the panel.
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House Health Committee Convenes Hearing on 42 CFR Part 2
On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing on 42 CFR Part 2 – regulations pertaining to the disclosure and sharing of a patient’s substance use treatment records. The bill in question, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545) intends to amend federal regulation related to substance use health records, aligning it with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, the law that governs privacy standards for other health care records. The Subcommittee is expected to vote on this legislation in the near future.
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HHS Updates HIPAA Guidance, Highlights Responses to Opioid Epidemic
On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out a bundle of new resources and initiatives that aim to address the ongoing opioid crisis. These new tools and initiatives are part of an obligation under the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure that the public understands the implications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
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Senate Bill Aims to Change Patients’ SUD Record Sharing
On Monday, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S.1850). This bill would alter the way substance use treatment records are shared among providers, further aligning the privacy rules and protections with those outlined in HIPAA. The bill closely mirrors legislation introduced in the House earlier this summer by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA).
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House Approves Mental Health Bill, Eyes Now Turn Towards Senate
On Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the nation’s mental health system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) – first introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy in 2013 – passed by a 422-2 vote and now awaits action from the Senate before heading to the White House. On the Senate side, a companion measure was approved earlier this year but has yet to receive consideration on the floor. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says he is hopeful the Senate will take up that measure in September.
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Mental Health Bill Approved by Committee, Now Heads to House Floor
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646). Introduced and championed by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), the bill now heads to the House floor where it awaits consideration from the full chamber. According to reports, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) aims to bring the bill up for a vote by the full House this summer. There is currently no companion mental health bill in the Senate, though similar measures have been introduced.
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House Committee to Consider, Vote on Mental Health Reform Bill
On Wednesday, June 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene a hearing to consider and vote on a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), originally introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The draft bill reflects a few changes pushed by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), including codifying a limit on Medicaid coverage for inpatient mental health care at institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) – Per the final Medicaid managed care rule – and dropping language that would loosen Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) restrictions.
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House Committee Circulates Compromise Mental Health Draft Bill, Vote Likely in June
On Monday, news broke that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) had begun circulating a revised draft of comprehensive mental health reform legislation. According to congressional staff familiar with the situation, the Chairman is pushing a modified bill including provisions from both Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) bill – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) and Rep. Gene Greene’s (D-TX) bill – Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act (H.R. 4435).
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Behavioral Health: It’s Hot on the Hill
In Washington, we are in the midst of the most proactive and important public policy shift in over a generation. From the implementation of the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration, to continued funding for Mental Health First Aid, to the Senate’s recent approval of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – longstanding National Council priorities are beginning to see the attention they so rightfully deserve.
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Senate Health Committee Holds Mental Health Hearing
On Wednesday, the Senate committee responsible for health care engaged providers and advocates in discussing areas of needed improvement while it works to achieve comprehensive reform. The hearing, convened before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, focused primarily on the provisions of the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 1945) – comprehensive legislation […]
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Executive Gun Order Clarifies Existing Law on Reporting Mental Illness
This week, the Obama administration announced a series of Executive Orders aimed at reducing gun violence. Among its many provisions, the rule clarifies existing federal law on the required reporting of mental health information to the federal government background-checks system for gun purchases. As under current law, the new regulation does not require physicians directly involved in patient care to engage in the reporting process, but instead gives state agencies improved flexibility to report pertinent information.
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Senators Murphy, Cassidy Introduce Comprehensive Mental Health Reform Bill
Today, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015, comprehensive legislation to reform the U.S. mental health care system. The legislation reauthorizes a number of programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), establishes workforce training and education programs for behavioral health providers, and affirms a commitment to providing evidence-based treatment services throughout federally funded mental health programs.
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Rep. Matsui Introduces Legislation to Increase Clarity on HIPAA Privacy Rules
Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced legislation this week aimed at clarifying often misunderstood guidance regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Specifically, the legislation aims to make clear HIPAA privacy rules as they apply to patients with mental illness by creating training programs to educate providers, patients and families about what health information can be shared and under what circumstances.
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Final Rule on Background Check Mental Health Data Advances
A federal regulation to allow the sharing of pertinent mental health information during a background check for the purchase of a firearm is in its final stage of review by the Obama Administration.
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HHS Releases FAQ on Disclosure of Mental Health Information Under HIPAA
The Department of Health and Human Services has released a Frequently Asked Questions document clarifying the circumstances under which healthcare providers are obligated to, permitted to, or prohibited from sharing information about patients who have a mental health diagnosis.
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