Two bills co-authored by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) to increase transparency among healthcare providers and more importantly, for patients, allowing for more successful treatment were recently passed by the House.
“Patients deserve the best available treatment under a physician’s care, but in certain cases, privacy protocols make it hard for an accurate diagnosis,” said Farry, chairman of the Human Services Committee, where the bills originated. “Unfortunately, these protocols prevent patients from receiving proper care. To prevent misdiagnoses and help patients receive beneficial treatment, these bills would allow more transparency among physicians and patients with physical and/or mental conditions by removing unnecessary hurdles.”
Under current law, mental health and substance use disorder information cannot be fully shared among providers in the commonwealth.
“The current system is antiquated,” Farry said. “It is clear that behavioral health and physical health are interrelated and inseparable, and that the best patient outcomes are achieved when providers, case managers and patients work together in the interest of the whole person, rather than approaching isolated aspects of a person’s health.”
House Bill 1561, sponsored by Farry, and House Bill 1563, sponsored by House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), would amend the Mental Health Procedures Act and the Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act, to allow for providers, facilities and health plans to share patient information with the patient’s approval. Both bills would also align with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards to ensure patient confidentiality. These acts were last updated in 2018.
The bills are now in the Senate.