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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

House Health Committee Convenes Hearing on 42 CFR Part 2

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On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing on 42 CFR Part 2 – regulations pertaining to the disclosure and sharing of a patient’s substance use treatment records. The bill in question, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545) intends to amend federal regulation related to substance use health records, aligning it with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, the law that governs privacy standards for other health care records. The Subcommittee is expected to vote on this legislation in the near future.

H.R. 3545 would allow for the sharing of patient information for the explicit purposes of treatment, payment or other health care operations like case management and care coordination. The law includes a long and detailed list of restrictions on when and where patient information could be used in civil and criminal proceedings, making clear that these records are prohibited from being used as evidence or a basis to press charges in criminal cases against patients.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who co-authored the legislation with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), said, “Simply put, an antiquated law prevents lifesaving medical care for patients in recovery for substance use disorders.”

The panel of witnesses in addition to Congressman Blumenauer included, Dr. H. Westley Clark, Dean’s Executive Professor, Public Health Program, Santa Clara University; Mr. Gerald DeLoss, Officer, Greensfelder, Hemker, and Gale, P.C.; Mr. Jeremiah Gardner, Manager, Public Affairs and Advocacy, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation; Mr. Dustin McKee; Director of Policy, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio; Ms. Patty McCarthy Metcalf, Executive Director, Faces and Voices of Recovery.