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Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

House Bill Aims to Amend 42 CFR Part 2

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Last Friday, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a bill that would change the way substance abuse treatment records are shared among providers. The bill, titled The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545), aims to amend federal regulations related to substance use health records (42 CFR Part 2), which currently prohibit widespread sharing of patients’ addiction treatment history.

Originally, 42 CFR Part 2 was meant to protect confidentiality and encourage those living with addictions to seek treatment. Rep. Murphy, along with the bill’s cosponsors and supporters, believes that the unintended consequences of this regulation led doctors to make prescribing and treatment decisions without information about their patients’ history with substance use disorders. The OPPS Act would bring 42 CFR Part 2 in line with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as it pertains to substance use disorder information.

Criminal Justice Involvement: Of importance to many providers and consumers of addiction treatment services, the legislation makes clear that these records are prohibited from being used as evidence or a basis to press charges in criminal cases against patients.

“You cannot treat the whole patient with half of their medical record. In order to help turn the tide on this crisis and prevent more drug overdose deaths, physicians must have access to their patient’s entire medical history,” said Rep. Murphy. “The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act will allow doctors to deliver optimal, lifesaving medical care, while maintaining the highest level of privacy for the patient.”

The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a preliminary report which endorsed this legislation as a method to better align patient privacy laws with HIPAA and ensure that providers have access to information surrounding their patients’ substance use disorders.

Cosponsors of the OPPS Act include Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).