April 23, 2018

The Honorable Greg Walden, Chairman

House Committee on Energy & Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Ranking Member

House Committee on Energy & Commerce

2322A Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone:

On behalf of the Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2, the undersigned organizations thank you for holding many hearings on the opioid crisis and putting forth thoughtful legislation to address this epidemic. The Committee on Energy and Commerce hearings have covered many challenges facing states and communities, patients, providers, and payors across the country.

As you mark-up your opioid package, we would like to highlight the importance of including H.R. 3545, the Overdose Protection and Patient Safety (OPPS) Act, sponsored by Representatives Markwayne Mullin and Earl Blumenauer. The OPPS Act would align 42 CFR Part 2 (Part 2) with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the purposes of health care treatment, payment and operations (TPO).

Part 2 was enacted more than 20 years before HIPAA and 40 years prior to the utilization of electronic health care records. While different treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) records were important in the 1970’s, Congress went on to enact HIPAA in 1996, which allows for the sharing of medical records without an authorization for TPO. Ready access to treatment and efficient payment for health care are essential to the effective operation of our health care system. Additionally, certain health care operations, such as administrative, financial, and quality improvement activities, are essential to support treatment and payment. Aligning Part 2 with HIPAA for purposes of treatment alone would not allow for care coordination, payment to providers, or fraud and abuse detection  without an authorization. HIPAA applies to every single illness, including other stigmatized diseases like mental health, HIV/AIDS, and SUD. However, because HIPAA sets the “floor” or minimum protections for health information, the overly-stringent restrictions imposed under Part 2 supersede HIPAA and prevent alignment with all other health care conditions.

View the full article »