Health Law Highlights

HIPAA and Part 2 Harmonized: What Health Care Organizations Need to Know

From Foley & Lardner LLP, by Jane Blaney, Jennifer J. Hennessy, Aaron T. Maguregui:

Part 2 Final Rule Implementation: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued the Part 2 Final Rule to revise the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Patient Records regulations. This rule, effective 60 days post-publication, implements provisions of the 2020 CARES Act and includes modifications proposed in the November 2022 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and additional changes based on public comments.

Patient Consent Changes: The rule allows SUD programs to obtain a single patient consent for all future uses and disclosures of Part 2 records for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations (TPO), as per HIPAA regulations. This consent can be revoked by the patient in writing. The rule also permits HIPAA-covered entities and business associates to redisclose records under this consent, barring use in legal proceedings against the patient without specific consent or court order.

Patient Notice and Rights: The rule aligns Part 2’s patient notice requirements more closely with the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices. It also provides patients with additional rights, such as requesting restrictions of disclosures to health plans for services paid in full or for purposes of TPO, obtaining an accounting of disclosures, and opting out of fundraising communications.

Breach Notification and Counseling Notes: The rule applies HIPAA’s Breach Notification Rule to breaches of unsecured records by Part 2 programs. It also includes a definition of SUD counseling notes similar to the HIPAA definition of psychotherapy notes, requiring specific consent from the individual for their disclosure.

Data Segregation and Penalties: The rule removes the requirement for segregation or segmentation of Part 2 records but maintains their protection. Violations of Part 2 will be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties as HIPAA violations, and patients can file complaints with HHS for violations of Part