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Mullin and Blumenauer Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic, Help Individuals in Substance Use Recovery Receive Safer and Better Care

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Washington, April 3, 2019 | comments

Today, Congressmen Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation called the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. This legislation, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito under the name The Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act, helps to address the opioid crisis by ensuring that medical providers have access to the full medical history of patients suffering from substance use disorders.

Patients suffering from substance use disorder deserve integrated treatment and care,” said Congressman Mullin. “It’s time that we stop stigmatizing those struggling with opioid abuse and give physicians the tools they need to help their patients. Mental health and physical health have been treated in a silo for too long. Our bill breaks down those barriers so the doctor can treat the whole patient. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues so that we can provide 21st century care to those who need it the most.”

“It is a disgrace that doctors are treating patients, in the midst of the opioid crisis, without being able to obtain and understand their full medical history” said Congressman Blumenauer. “If substance use disorder treatment is not included in your entire medical records, then they are not complete. It makes care coordination more difficult and can lead to devastating outcomes. This bill works to remove the stigma that comes with substance use disorders and ensures necessary information is available for safe, efficient, and transparent treatment for all patients.”

Congressman Greg Walden, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said “I want to thank Reps. Blumenauer and Mullin for re-introducing the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act again this Congress. This important legislation passed the House alongside the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act last congress, but ultimately did not become law.  This is one of the most significant policies we can address to continue our efforts to combat the opioid crisis.  I look forward to swift passage of this bill so doctors can safely and effectively treat patients with substance use disorder while ensuring the necessary privacy protections remain in place.”

This bill aligns the outdated and restrictive law and regulations, collectively known as 42 CFR Part 2 (or “Part 2”), with the patient privacy protections currently in place under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), allowing the medical community to utilize substance use disorder treatment records in the same manner as all other medical records. The legislation also incorporates language to guard against unauthorized invasions of patient privacy, discriminatory activities, and authorizes strong enforcement penalties and breach notification requirements for these transgressions, which are not currently available under Part 2.

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