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Press Release

Walden on Reintroduction of the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act


04.03.19

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) released the following statement after Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) introduced the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. The bill helps to address the opioid crisis by ensuring that medical providers have access to the full medical history of patients suffering from substance use disorders.

“I want to thank Reps. Blumenauer and Mullin for re-introducing the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act again this Congress. This important legislation passed the House alongside the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act last Congress, but ultimately did not become law. This is one of the most significant policies we can address to continue our efforts to combat the opioid crisis. I look forward to swift passage of this bill so doctors can safely and effectively treat patients with substance use disorder while ensuring the necessary privacy protections remain in place.”

Background:

During the 115th Congress, the House passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act by a bipartisan vote of 357-57.

Rep. Walden recently headlined a discussion at AEI titled, “Navigating the evolving opioid crisis: A conversation with House Committee on Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden.” At the event, he discussed the need for Congress to pass the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.

In addition, Rep. Walden, Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Subcommittee on Health Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Diana DeGette (R-CO), requesting the committee continue its bipartisan work to help combat the opioid crisis, including passing the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.

This bill aligns the outdated and restrictive law and regulations, collectively known as 42 CFR Part 2 (or “Part 2”), with the patient privacy protections currently in place under HIPAA for the purposes of treatment, payment, and healthcare operations, allowing the medical community to utilize substance use disorder treatment records in the same manner as all other medical records. The legislation also incorporates language to guard against discriminatory activities and unauthorized invasions of patient privacy. Finally, the bill authorizes strong enforcement penalties and breach notification requirements for these transgressions, which are not available under Part 2 in its current form.

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