Dozens of bills produced by the House of Representatives recently became Centerstone’s top priorities. Among them, the Opioid Prevention and Patient Safety Act (OPPS Act) (H.R.5795) is the most controversial and hotly contested among lawmakers and stakeholders.
These bills and the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S 1012) in the Senate – ensure that medical providers have access to the full medical history of patients suffering from substance use disorders. Their re-introduction offers an important opportunity to improve our ability to treat substance use disorders. We encourage interested parties to take action – here is some additional background on the bill and pointers on how to reach out to your representatives and senators.
What the Bill Will Do:
The bipartisan OPPS Act would function to align 42 CFR Part 2 (Part 2) with HIPAA’s consent requirements for the purposes of treatment, payment, and healthcare operations (TPO). This would finally permit federally assisted substance use disorder providers (like Centerstone) to have access to the full patient record. Additionally, it would allow federally assisted substance use disorder (SUD) providers to share their patients’ SUD records with other covered entities in order to ensure their patients receive safe, integrated, and whole-person care.
Context for the OPPS Act:
The Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records rule (42 CFR Part 2) is a regulation created in the 1970s to protect the confidentiality of an individual’s substance use records. The rule–created decades before HIPPA or electronic health records–prevents federally assisted providers from seeing a SUD patient’s full medical record unless that patient signs a separate written release. As such, Part 2 prevents providers from systematically treating SUD patients by prohibiting access to complete and accurate patient histories. This can result in dangerous and avoidable drug interactions, opioid overdoses, hospitalizations, and even fatalities.
In contrast, HIPPA allows for providers to communicate appropriately outside of just emergent situations, opening the doors for a full continuum of timely and accurate care. Today, SUD is the only condition not governed by HIPAA. Complying with Part 2 by obtaining multiple consents from each patient is not only challenging and administratively burdensome for providers, but it is also, more importantly, a barrier to safe, whole-person, integrated care for individuals with SUD. As the field moves towards more robust integrated care models where every member of a patient’s treatment team needs to understand a patient’s full medical/SUD history, Part 2 stands as a hindrance to addictions treatment nationwide.
Centerstone CEO David Guth’s penned an op-ed on the topic.
What you can do: call your Senators and Congressional Members!
If you’d like to reach out to your respective Senators and Congressional Representatives to share your support for mental health advocacy, please feel free to reference the documents we have linked you to within this post for talking points (sample statement also provided below).
To contact your Senators, use the following phone numbers:
- Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-5274
- Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-3041
- Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2152
- Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2854
- Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4814
- Senator Todd Young (R-IN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-5623
- Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) D.C. contact: (202) 224-2541
- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4343
- Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-4944
- Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) D.C. contact: (202) 224-3344
To contact your Congressional Representative, click here or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (a switchboard operator will connect you directly with your lawmaker’s office. You do not need to know his or her names; you can simply provide the switchboard with the county you live in).
“Hello. My name is (name, city you live in, place you work (if applicable)) and I’m calling to share my support for the Opioid Prevention and Patient Safety Act (HR 2062 S 1012). As an employee of a front-lines provider of behavioral health and substance abuse services, I know how important it is for providers to have access to a patient’s full medical record to ensure safe, whole-person, integrated care. This bill will align 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA. This will reduce stigma by treating addiction like all other illnesses, allow for care coordination and integration of treatment, and improve outcomes. Thank you.”
Sample Social Media Post
The Opioid Prevention and Patient Safety Act would allow better substance use treatment by streamlining provider access to a patient’s medical record. This Act updates outdated privacy laws and aligns them with HIPPA, which ensures safer, whole-person healthcare. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your representative about supporting the OPPS Act.
If your Congressperson is Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12), Susan Brooks (R-IN-5), Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), or Andy Barr (R-KY-16), please use this sample statement:
“Hello. My name is (name, city you live in, place you work (if applicable)) and I’m calling to Thank the Congressman/Congresswoman for cosponsoring H.R. 5795, the Opioid Prevention and Patient Safety Act. I encourage the Congressman/Congresswoman to continue leading the charge on this bill, as it will allow for true care coordination and integration of treatment, and improve patient outcomes. Thank you.”
Thank you all for helping us to address these legislative issues which will help us to deliver care that changes people’s lives.