Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bipartisan Bills to Improve Mental Health Treatment

A bipartisan legislative package to modernize Pennsylvania’s mental health and substance use disorder laws was recently signed into law. HB 1561 amends the state Mental Health Procedures Act and HB 1563 amends the Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to align with federal health privacy standards to permit providers, facilities, and health plans to share patient mental health and substance use disorder-related information more easily. Under previous Pennsylvania law, mental health and physical health information could not be fully shared among providers. The new laws bring Pennsylvania in line with most states that already allow providers to share this information and are seeing improved patient outcomes. The laws leave all HIPAA protections in place, and information cannot be shared outside of a medical context.8i