Call Your Members of Congress TODAY to Protect the Privacy of
Substance Use Disorder Patient Information
What You Need to Say (Message):
“I am a constituent who lives in Senator/Congressperson _____________’s state/district and I urge the Senator/Congressperson to protect patient privacy and oppose including H.R. 6082 (“the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act”) in the final opioid bill package.
H.R. 6082 would reduce privacy protections by allowing the sharing of patient health information without patient consent. In the middle of our nation’s opioid crisis — H.R. 6082 is harmful and would prevent people from entering care out of fear that their treatment records would be used against them in harmful ways.”
Action Needed NOW:
- Call your U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
- You should ask to speak to the legislative assistant who focuses on health issues, or the legislative director and convey the message above.
- You should feel free to share with the staffer the role that privacy protections played when you/or your loved one or patient sought addiction care.
Get the Real Facts:
The current federal confidentiality law (42 U.S.C. § 290dd-2) and its regulations at 42 CFR Part 2 (collectively known as “Part 2”) protect the unauthorized disclosures of patients’ substance use disorder (“SUD”) information, which minimizes discrimination and negative consequences against people seeking and completing drug and/or alcohol treatment.
SAMHSA updated Part 2’s provisions in 2017 and 2018 to make it easier to share SUD information in electronic health networks and among patients’ providers in modern health care delivery systems, while maintaining patient confidentiality protections.
Nevertheless, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6082, the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act,” that uses a weaker confidentiality law (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”)) and permits the release of SUD medical record information for “treatment, payment, and health care operations” purposes – without the patient’s consent.
Meanwhile, the Senate recently passed its opioid bill package, which maintains Part 2’s current privacy protections. As the Senate and the House reconcile their two bills for a final opioid legislative package — it is critical that H.R. 6082 is not included.
How else would H.R. 6082 Harm Patients?
- The bill’s proposed anti-discrimination provisions will not be sufficient to protect discrimination against and harms caused to people who are using illegal substances. These provisions are based on current civil rights laws (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Housing Act) that do not protect people using illegal substances from discrimination.
- R. 6082 restricts patients’ privacy options. Patients in substance use disorder treatment should keep the power to decide when and to whom their records are disclosed, given the continued prevalence of discrimination in our society.
- Many individuals needing substance use disorder treatment will likely not go or stay in treatment – if they know their private health information can be shared with others without their consent.
More information on Patient Confidentiality Protections:
- Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights: https://lac.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/CPPart2-Principles.pdf
- What is 42 CFR Part 2? https://lac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/What-is-Part-2.pdf
- 42 CFR Part 2 is Not the Problem: https://lac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Part-2-is-not-the-Problem.pdf
- Privacy Rights of Patients Treated for Overdose in Emergency Departments: https://lac.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Privacy-Rights-of-Patients-Treated-for-Overdose-in-Emergency-Departments.pdf