Responding to concerns that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule is preventing states from reporting relevant information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used to clear or disbar people from making gun purchases, the Department of Human Services (HHS) will seek public input on what should be done. In the Federal Register, HHS noted:

"Concerns have been raised that, in certain states, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule may be a barrier to States’ reporting the identities of individuals subject to the mental health prohibitor to the NICS. The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the HIPAA regulations, is issuing this Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit public comments on such barriers to reporting and ways in which these barriers can be addressed. In particular, we are considering creating an express permission in the HIPAA rules for reporting the relevant information to the NICS by those HIPAA covered entities responsible for involuntary commitments or the formal adjudications that would subject individuals to the mental health prohibitor, or that are otherwise designated by the States to report to the NICS."

Although HIPAA states that hospitals and agencies are allowed to disclose data when required by law, some states do not have explicit laws requiring state agencies to share patients' mental health data, according to a 2012 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).