ACT NOW: Remove Barriers to Effective SUD Treatment

The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities across the country, reaching overwhelming proportions and creating a public health crisis for patients and their families. Stakeholders across the health care spectrum are working together to implement solutions. 

Unfortunately, these efforts are complicated by outdated federal requirements limiting the sharing of critical health information amongst medical professionals, hospitals, and health plans who would otherwise coordinate their work to better prevent substance use disorders (SUD).

All health information is protected by the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), with the exception of substance-use-related information, which is governed independently under outdated federal requirements. These more-than-40-year-old requirements (known as 42 CFR Part 2) have become incompatible with the way health care is delivered today. 

Essentially, 42 CFR Part 2 limits the sharing of patients’ SUD records, effectively separating this critical information from the rest of their physical and mental health records. Doing so limits a health care provider’s ability to access a patient’s comprehensive medical history and only serves to create unnecessary, life-threatening barriers to the kind of whole-person, integrated treatment approaches to care that have been proven to produce the best health outcomes. 

Thankfully, federal lawmakers have recognized this discrepancy and proposed legislation that would update these outdated requirements by better aligning 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA’s robust Privacy Rule framework, thereby allowing health plans and health care providers to work together to produce better health outcomes.

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