Press Release

Walden and Burgess Welcome Trump Administration’s Partnership in Reforming SUD Confidentiality Law


08.22.19

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) voice support for the Trump administration’s proposal to reform substance use disorder (SUD) confidentiality law known as 42 CFR Part 2.

“Outdated federal substance use disorder (SUD) confidentiality law and regulations are actively interfering in the safe treatment of patients and we are pleased that the President has taken action to address this obstacle in our efforts to save people from opioid overdosing. This builds on our efforts last Congress, when the House overwhelmingly passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, which unfortunately was not taken up in the Senate. Reintroduced this Congress, this bipartisan bill strikes the right balance of permitting limited sharing of SUD treatment records within the health care community, while ensuring that individuals suffering from addiction can seek and receive treatment without fear of discrimination. We welcome the administration’s partnership in this effort with today’s announcement. But passing this legislation into law is the best way to fully and permanently ensure health care providers can effectively treat patients with substance use disorders.” said Walden and Burgess.

Background:

The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Actpassed the House last Congress with a strong bipartisan vote of 357-57. This bill would put the protection of substance use disorder records under HIPAA instead of 42 CFR Part 2.

Recently, 39 states attorneys general reached out to Congress to ask for this obstacle in the outdated law to be reformed, and key stakeholders have supported this move as well.

Federal confidentiality law and regulations (42 C.F.R. Part 2, or Part 2) related to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment information were enacted in the 1970s after Congress recognized individuals with SUD had been avoiding getting medical help for fear of discrimination if the records became public.

Part 2 law and regulations impose more restrictions on the disclosure of substance use disorder treatment records than most other Federal and State health privacy laws, including the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (Privacy Rule) under HIPAA. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, health information may be used or disclosed by covered entities (health providers, payers, and clearinghouses) for the purposes of treatment, payment, and other health care operations. Compared to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Part 2 is much narrower in scope and permits fewer uses and disclosures of patient information without express written consent.

However, the current restrictions on medical records dealing with opioid use disorder and associated treatments are hindering health care providers’ ability to effectively treat patients, especially patients they are seeing for the first time or patients they are seeing under emergency situations.

Press Release