Like most metropolitan regions throughout the country, Greater Louisville has been far from immune to the opioid epidemic. From 2012 to 2016, Jefferson County alone saw more than 1,200 deaths by drug overdose. Opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders in our region have broken families apart, stretched public resources thin, and drained our workforce.
That’s why GLI recently voiced its support for efforts to align privacy protections in 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). This is a common-sense change that Congress can make to federal law to help communities like Greater Louisville cope with this crisis by giving providers full access to a patient’s medical history for the purposes of treatment, payment, and operations.
In case you are not familiar, 42 CFR Part 2, the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records rule, is a more than 40-years-old rule that places significant restrictions on providers’ access to records related to substance use disorders. Ultimately, these restrictions function to limit the ability of a treatment team to systematically develop a comprehensive picture of the patient’s medical history and pursue the most effective treatment strategies. By bringing into line the strict protections of 42 CFR Part 2 with the more appropriate level of privacy protections established by HIPAA, persons with opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders are far more likely to get the care they need and, in turn, improve their quality of life.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already taken steps in the right direction on this issue by voting 357-57 in favor of the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, H.R. 6082. This week, GLI sent letters to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Joe Donnelly, and Senator Todd Young, encouraging them to support similar measures in the Senate, such as S.1850.