National Council for Behavioral Health

Skip to content
Find a Provider
The National Council logo
Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

Senate Bill Aims to Change Patients’ SUD Record Sharing

September 28, 2017 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments
Share on LinkedIn
Featured image of the post

On Monday, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S.1850). This bill would alter the way substance use treatment records are shared among providers, further aligning the privacy rules and protections with those outlined in HIPAA. The bill closely mirrors legislation introduced in the House earlier this summer by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA).

Much like its counterpart in the House, the Legacy Act would allow broader sharing of patients’ substance use records with the goal of ensuring provider accessibility to a patient’s full medical history to provide the most appropriate care. Additionally, the legislation would prohibit a patient’s substance use records from being used as evidence or as a basis with which to press charges in criminal cases. Opinions on the extent to which patients’ substance use records should be shared and under what conditions has ignited passionate responses both in support of and in opposition to legislation such as the Legacy Act.

Opposing organizations, led by the Legal Action Center, have formed a coalition to raise concerns about this approach with Congress.

The bill is named after a young woman, Jessica Grubb, who lost her life to an overdose after receiving a prescription for opioids following a surgery. The prescribing doctor was not aware that Jessica was a person in long-term recovery from addiction.

“The Grubb family has experienced unimaginable pain from the scourge of addiction that has taken the lives of so many in West Virginia and across the country,” said Senator Capito. “Jessie’s death is heartbreaking, but her story has inspired action. With this new legislation, we are taking another important step to prevent future overdose deaths by making sure medical professionals have the information they need when treating patients who have struggled with addiction.”

Cosponsors of the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S.1850) include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).