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AMGA Comments on SAMHSA's Privacy Stance

AMGA recently endorsed the efforts by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to ensure patients seeking treatment for substance use can benefit from the type of care coordination and integrated care delivery that AMGA members provide. AMGA submitted comments on SAMHSA's proposed rule to modernize the regulations that govern patient confidentiality protection requirements so that providers may share treatment and other legitimate health care information for individuals seeking care for substance use disorders.

"Substance use disorders can be devastating for patients, their family, and the larger community," says Donald W. Fisher, PhD, CAE, AMGA's president and CEO. "Modernizing the patient confidentiality protections will enable multispecialty medical groups and integrated delivery systems to appropriately share patient data electronically so those seeking treatment can benefit from new health care delivery models and providers can identify those who may be in need of substance abuse care."

The proposed rule facilitates the electronic exchange of substance use disorder information by allowing patients to designate an entity, rather than an individual provider, as having permission to share patient identifying information with those individual providers and entities that are part of the patient's health care team. Without this needed modification, each individual provider would need to obtain the patient's consent, which effectively precludes multispecialty medical groups and integrated health care models from delivering and coordinating substance use care.

To further protect patients' confidentiality, the rule would require entities that are designated to provide substance use disorder treatment to provide patients upon request a so-called "List of Disclosures." Further, if the patient provided a "general disclosure," the patient may request under the list of disclosures individual provider names.

Source: AMGA