Possible Legal Barriers for PCP Access to Mental Health Treatment Records

  • Leslie S. Rothenberg
  • David A. Ganz
  • Neil S. Wenger


Provider and payer groups have endorsed the goal of improving the integration of primary care and behavioral health across a variety of programs and settings. There is an interest in sharing patients’ medical information, a goal that is permissible within HIPAA, but there are concerns about more restrictive state medical privacy laws. This article assesses whether a substantial number of state medical privacy laws are, or could be interpreted to be, more restrictive than HIPAA. Preliminary investigation found that in almost one third of the states (including large-population states such as Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas), primary care physicians (PCPs) may have difficulty accessing mental health treatment records without the patient’s (or his/her guardian/conservator’s) written consent. If a comprehensive legal analysis supports this conclusion, then those advocating integration of behavioral and primary care may need to consider seeking appropriate state legislative solutions.


Mental Health Behavioral Health Behavioral Health Care Behavioral Health Provider Covered Entity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The technical assistance of Patricia Smith is gratefully acknowledged.

Conflict of Interest

No authors have a conflict of interest to report, financial or otherwise.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie S. Rothenberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • David A. Ganz
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Neil S. Wenger
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Pacific PalisadesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.The RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  4. 4.Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare SystemLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.UCLA Health Ethics CenterLos AngelesUSA

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