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Mullin Leads Colleagues in Pressing Biden Administration to Take Action on Part 2

Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) led seven of his House Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra recently, urging the Secretary to release the long overdue 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 2 proposed rule to modernize substance use disorder privacy regulations as required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 42 CFR Part 2 acted as a firewall between doctors and patients, obstructing doctors from seeing a patient’s full medical record and previous substance use history. This rule, which, by law, was to be released in March 2021, will ensure that doctors have access to patients’ addiction medical information and will prevent tragic overdoses and improve patient safety.

This outdated regulation has contributed to the opioid epidemic by allowing individuals who have previously struggled with opioid addiction to be unintentionally treated with more opioids. In the case of Jessie Grubb, the segregation of her medical records cost her her life. Jessie was treated with opioids after surgery by a doctor who had no knowledge of her substance use history, despite Jessie filling out the proper paperwork to give her doctor permission to view her whole medical history. She passed away from an opioid overdose the next day.

Mullin has long advocated for 42 CFR Part 2 reform. In 2017, Mullin sponsored H.R. 3545, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, to give doctors access to information that can prevent tragic overdoses and improve patient safety. The bill passed in the House the same year and was signed into law in 2020 as part of the CARES Act.

Reps. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Neal Dunn (FL-02), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Larry Bucshon (IN-08), and Richard Hudson (NC-08) joined Mullin on this letter.

The full letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Becerra,

We are writing to you regarding the long overdue release of the 42 CFR Part 2 rule as required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (PL 116-136) during the 116th Congress. As required by section 3221 of the CARES Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was required to issue regulations 12-months after enactment of the legislation. It has been more than two years and we continue to wait on a proposed rule. During this time, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the substance use disorder crisis in the United States. More than 100,000 people lost their lives to overdose in the 12 months ending September 2021 reversing progress that was made as recently as 2019; it is the highest single year death toll -- specifically attributable to drug overdoses -- in US history.

The enacted provisions in the CARES Act better align federal privacy standards applicable to substance use disorder (SUD) patient records with other medical records – with the objective of facilitating the sharing of critical medical information for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations (TPO) as those terms are defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while eliminating burdensome re-disclosure requirements.

The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on our nation’s mental health. Even worse, we have seen an increase of overdose deaths, especially from fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.  As our nation battles to reduce the surge of overdose deaths, we urge you to release the 42 CFR Part 2 proposed rule that will help modernize substance use disorder privacy regulations, allow our health care providers to better coordinate care for patients and reduce the ever-increasing number of opioid use disorder (OUD) deaths. 

We look forward to working with you closely as HHS issues a new 42 CFR Part 2 rule that fully complies with the CARES Act. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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