What You Need to Say (Message):
“I am a constituent who lives in Representative ______________’s District and I would like the Representative to oppose the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, H.R. 3545. This bill would reduce privacy protections for people receiving addiction treatment by allowing sharing of patient health information to a wide range of entities without their consent. In the middle of our nation’s opioid crisis, H.R. 3545 would prevent people from entering care out of fear that their treatment records would be used against them in harmful ways.”
What You Need to Do (Action):
It is critically important that you call your member of Congress on Wednesday, May 16th and ask them to oppose the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act,” (H.R 3545).
You can find your U.S. Representative by visiting https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative, or by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. In addition, those representatives who also sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee are particularly important to contact, since they will initially be considering the legislation. A list of House Energy and Commerce Committee members is included below.
What You Need to Know:
- Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are separately working on legislative packages aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. While the Senate’s package of bills (the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018”) now awaits review by the full U.S. Senate, the House legislative package continue to move through the committee process. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is now marking up (or voting on) a large package of opioid response bills. The final mark-up of the House Energy and Commerce Committee package is scheduled for Thursday, May 17th. Included in the list of bills the House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on during the May 17th mark-up session is H.R. 3545, the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.”
- We need to request that H.R. 3545 not be included in the House opioid legislative package. Here’s why recovery organizations, patient advocate groups, and health policy organizations strongly oppose H.R. 3545:
- The bill is harmful: It would eliminate the substance use disorder patient’s current legal ability to consent to disclose his/her substance use disorder (“SUD”) treatment information for “treatment, payment, and health care operations” purposes – so that SUD patient information would be disclosed and re-disclosed to health plans, health care providers, and other entities without the patient’s knowledge and consent. Patients should retain the power to decide when and to whom their records are disclosed currently in Part 2, given the continued prevalence of discrimination against people living with substance use disorder in our society.
- R. 3545 would cause people who need substance use disorder treatment to be afraid of obtaining it, since the bill’s proposed anti-discrimination provisions will not be sufficient to protect individuals currently using illegal substances from discrimination.
- R. 3545 is also unnecessary: Current federal confidentiality law, 42 U.S.C. § 290dd-2 and its recently updated regulations at 42 CFR Part 2 (collectively known as “Part 2”) support care coordination among providers in electronic health systems and current health delivery models, while maintaining patient confidentiality.
Additional Information on H.R. 3545 and Patient Confidentiality:
The most recent version of the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545) can be found here.
Here is additional information that supports the importance of confidentiality protections for patient records and treatment:
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:
If you have any questions, please feel free to call Deborah Reid at the Legal Action Center, (202) 544-5478. Thank you for your help!