Sending Office: Honorable Adam B. Schiff
Sent By:
Anthony.Theissen@mail.house.gov

Join Bipartisan Letter to HHS Regarding Compassionate Communication on HIPAA

Endorsed by: NAMI; the National Council of Behavioral Health; Treatment Advocacy Center

CosignersBilirakis, Carbajal, Katko, Napolitano, Panetta, Schiff

Extended DeadlineCOB July 20

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in sending a bipartisan letter to HHS, requesting an update on their progress in implementing the Compassionate Communication on HIPAA provision within the 21st Century Cures Act.

As you may know, the Compassionate Communication on HIPAA provision requires HHS to develop model programs and training for health care providers to clarify when protected health information can be shared. While the measure prioritizes the training of health
professionals regarding permitted HIPAA uses and disclosures, it also provides for training of patients and their families to understand their rights to obtain treatment information. 

The HHS Office of Civil Rights recently issued clarifying guidance explaining how health care providers have broad ability to share health information with a patient’s family member during certain crisis circumstances without violating HIPAA privacy regulations.
However, widespread misunderstandings persist and create obstacles to family support that is crucial to the proper care and treatment of persons experiencing a crisis situation.

Therefore, we ask that you join us in requesting an update on HHS’ implementation of this important provision. If you would like to sign onto the letter or have questions, please contact Anthony Theissen in Rep. Schiff’s office at Anthony.Theissen@mail.house.gov or
Jennifer Wood in Rep. Katko’s office at Jennifer.Wood@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Adam B. Schiff                                               John Katko

    Member of Congress                                   Member of Congress

July XX, 2018

Dear Secretary Azar:

We write to express our strong support for the Compassionate Communication on HIPAA provisions authorized under Subtitle C, Title XI, Section 11004 of the 21st Century Cures Act and to request an update on the status of implementing this provision
which was enacted by Congress in 2016.

HIPAA regulations allow health professionals to share information with a patient’s loved ones in emergency or dangerous situations. However, widespread misunderstandings persist and create obstacles to family support that is crucial to the proper care and
treatment of persons experiencing a crisis situation. To enhance the quality of behavioral health and medical/surgical services, we believe it is essential that model programs and training materials be developed for health care professionals regarding permitted
uses and disclosures of Protected Health Information through HIPAA.

Unfortunately, many health providers either misinterpret or do not understand what HIPAA actually permits them to say. As long as misconceptions or ignorance of the rights and responsibilities associated with the privacy rule persist, HIPAA may continue
to hinder necessary communication with significant implications for patient care and public safety in circumstances in which providers are legally allowed to share information.

In an effort to promulgate a proper understanding, the Compassionate Communication on HIPAA provision within the 21st Century Cures Act requires HHS to develop model programs and training for health care providers to clarify when information can
be shared. It is important that HHS prioritize the training of health professionals – including physicians, nurses, emergency medical personnel, care managers, and hospitals – regarding permitted HIPAA uses and disclosures. The measure also provides for training
of patients and their families to understand their rights to obtain treatment information. 

Providers should reasonably work with families who, in good faith, seek information about a family member with serious mental illness to protect their health or safety, particularly where that individual lacks judgment to make an informed decision regarding
their need for treatment, care, or supervision. Therefore, we respectfully request an update on your progress in implementing the Compassionate Communication on HIPPA provision within the 21st Century Cures Act.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Civil Rights, HealthCare

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