aamc.org does not support this web browser.
  • Washington Highlights

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Continues Its Work on Opioids

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee May 8 and 9 continued its work to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, holding a hearing and a markup on the topic.

    The Health Subcommittee held a May 8 hearing to discuss draft legislation that would make changes to 42 CFR Part 2, which addresses under what circumstances confidential records about a patient’s substance abuse treatment may be disclosed without the patient’s consent. On May 9, the full committee held a markup on 26 pieces of legislation that would address the opioid epidemic. The hearing and markup follow an April 24 markup where the Health Subcommittee advanced its own opioid package consisting of 57 bills [see Washington Highlights, April 27].

    The subcommittee’s hearing, “Improving the Coordination and Quality of Substance Use Disorder Treatment,” examined draft legislation proposed by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) titled the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.” The bill would allow substance use disorder records to be shared among covered entities, defined to include providers, payers, and business associates, for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations. The bill would require that these records could be shared but only in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

    Additionally, the bill would add breach notification requirements and enhance penalties in the event of disclosure. The hearing examined whether 42 CFR Part 2, originally enacted to provide an extra layer of privacy protection for patients seeking treatment for substance use disorder, is overly burdensome and potentially keeps providers from accessing important patient records that may be important for the patient’s care. Witnesses discussed the appropriate balance between sharing records to ensure appropriate treatment with a patient’s need for privacy. The subcommittee will continues its examination of 42 CFR Part 2 and related legislation.

    Among the bills the committee advanced during its markup were the Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act (H.R. 5002) and the Training, Education, and Community Help (TEACH) to Combat Addiction Act of 2018 (H.R. 5261).

    The committee did not consider Rep. Mullin’s bill on 42 CFR Part 2. Additional hearings and markups are expected to be scheduled in the near future.