The government is focusing on opioids.  Whether it be program policies, enforcement, or legislation, combating the opioid epidemic continues to be a major focus for government officials.  It is also a major piece of the health care legislation moving in both the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee advanced five bills relating to the opioid crisis, and the HELP Committee advanced the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018,” which has over 40 measures relating to opioids. Most recently (6/12), the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the Helping To End Addiction And Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act Of 2018.  That Act includes the expansion of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act to include payments to mid-level providers, as we previously blogged about here.  Click here for a summary of all Senate bills.

On the House side, over the last two weeks, the House passed over 50 bills to combat the opioid crisis and have received bipartisan support. Additional opioid related bills have been introduced and passed out of committee. On June 20, the House voted and passed three additional opioid bills (HR 5925, HR 9797, and HR 6082). Two of these bills were considered controversial. H.R. 5797, The IMD CARE Act, repeals the Medicaid IMD exclusion for individuals with opioid use disorders. H.R. 6082, The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, amends 42 CFR Part 2 confidentiality protections pertaining to substance use disorder patient records.  Continue Reading Opioids Have Our Attention

Written by Dianne Bourque

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) has scheduled a “public listening session” on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, to seek input on potential changes to the federal Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations at 42 CFR Part 2 (“Part 2”).

The Part 2 regulations, which are among the most stringent of all health care privacy laws, were passed in the 70s and have not been updated since 1987.   Meanwhile, health care delivery, as well as health information privacy and security regulations, have evolved dramatically, to the point where Part 2 has become unwieldy.  For example, Part 2 drastically limits the circumstances under which certain drug and alcohol treatment information may be shared – even with other providers or entities involved in a health care delivery system.  Health care delivery, on the other hand, has been evolving into new and increasingly complex models of integrated care, such as ACOs and HIEs, supported by electronic data exchange and performance measurement.  The existing Part 2 restrictions on information sharing risk excluding substance abuse treatment providers and their patients from innovative care models.  However, there continues to be a need for patients to be assured of privacy when they seek treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.

SAMHSA is seeking input from the public on these and other issues raised by Part 2, including, consent requirements, redisclosure of treatment information and research.  Participants may register to attend the session in person or participate via webcast.