House Passes Blumenauer Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic, Help Individuals in Substance Use Recovery Receive Safer and Better Care

June 21, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC –Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) that 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.

“As the opioid crisis grips the nation, it makes no sense that doctors are currently treating patients without the ability to see or understand their full medical history,” said Blumenauer. “Keeping substance use treatment records separate from the medical record only perpetuates stigma towards treatment and recovery and leads to uncoordinated care and poor outcomes for patients.”  

Currently, because of an antiquated law from 1972, substance use treatment records are kept expressly separate from a patient’s medical record. This life-threatening barrier prevents medical providers who treat patients in recovery for substance use disorders from knowing their full medical history, which can lead to poor, and in some cases, tragic patient outcomes.

Blumenauer’s bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2), aligns the outdated and restrictive law, known as 42 CFR Part 2 (or “Part 2”), with the patient privacy protections currently in place under HIPAA, ensuring substance use records are treated as all other medical records. The legislation also incorporates language to guard against unauthorized invasions of patient privacy, discriminatory activities, and authorizes penalties and breach notification requirements for these transgressions not currently available under Part 2.

Blumenauer continued, “Ultimately, we need universal health care, including coverage for substance use treatment and mental health services. We need alternative pain management treatments for patients with chronic pain, and we must continue to educate health care providers on the dangers of over-prescribing. Today’s passage is a small step forward, but it’s a sign of progress. I hope we can build on this momentum.”