Lawmakers hoping to overhaul privacy rules for substance-use disorders

August 14, 2019  / SUSANNAH LUTHI 

Lawmakers are hoping Congress can pass a proposed overhaul of addiction-related privacy laws now that the American Medical Association is no longer opposed.

Hospitals badly want Congress to waive the statute known as 42 CFR Part 2 and its dictates that only substance-use disorder, or SUD, patients themselves can decide who sees their medical history. They argue that given the stakes with widespread opioid addiction, it’s risky to ban doctors from sharing medical histories when appropriate.

The Trump administration is also expected to release its regulatory changes to the so-called “Part 2” protections any day now, but it’s unclear how far officials can go in reshaping the law.

In the House, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is now leading the legislative push to match substance abuse disorder privacy laws with HIPAA rules. His lead co-sponsor is Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who fought last year, when Republicans had the majority in the House, to get the bill into Congress’ bicameral opioid legislation.

“If providers are unable to get the full picture of a patient’s condition, it can often have tragic consequences,” Blumenauer said in a statement to Modern Healthcare. “The AMA’s recognition of this has provided momentum in Congress to make meaningful reforms that will ensure physicians have all of the necessary information to provide care to all patients regardless of the possibility that they are suffering from a substance-use disorder.”


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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust.

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