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In the dying days of the Obama administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records Final Rule that would allow more flexibility for sharing patient records relating to substance use disorders.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price yesterday delayed the effective date of this final rule from tomorrow, February 17, to March 21, 2017. The Federal Register notice states that the delay is necessary to give HHS officials the opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule. This announcement raises uncertainty regarding whether these revisions to the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations (42 CFR Part 2) will be implemented in the current form, as well as whether the effective date may be further delayed in light of possible revisions.