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ASAM Supports Bill to Modernize the Privacy Laws to Combat Opioid Epidemic

July 28, 2017

Letter of Support

Press Release

The undersigned members of the Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2 (Partnership) and additional stakeholder organizations applaud your leadership on the issue of substance use disorder privacy records and strongly support your bill, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety (OPPS) Act, H.R. 3545, to align 42 CFR Part 2 (Part 2) with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the purposes of health care treatment, payment, and operations (TPO). We appreciate the provision in your bill that strengthens protections against the use of substance use disorder records in criminal proceedings.

The Partnership is a coalition of over 30 health care stakeholder organizations committed to aligning Part 2 with HIPAA to allow appropriate access to patient information that is essential for providing whole-person care.

The federal regulations governing the confidentiality of drug and alcohol treatment and prevention records, Part 2, set requirements limiting the use and disclosure of patients’ substance use records from certain substance use treatment programs. Obtaining multiple consents from the patient is challenging and creates barriers to whole-person, integrated approaches to care, which are part of our current health care framework. Part 2 regulations may lead to a doctor treating a patient and writing prescriptions for opioid pain medication for that individual without knowing the person has a substance use disorder. Separation of a patient’s addiction record from the rest of that person’s medical record creates several problems and hinders patients from receiving safe, effective, high quality substance use treatment and coordinated care.

We are pleased that your bill would align Part 2 with HIPAA’s consent requirements for the purposes of TPO, which will allow for the appropriate sharing of substance use disorder records to ensure persons with opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders receive the integrated care they need. Additionally, as we do not want patients with substance use disorders to be made vulnerable as a result of seeking treatment for addiction, this legislation strengthens protections of their records.

As you know, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a final rule which takes some steps to modernize Part 2, but it does not go far enough. Legislative action is also necessary in order to modify Part 2 and bring substance use records into the 21st Century. We thank you for leading that effort and look forward to working with you to advance this important bipartisan legislation.