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Hospitals, insurers support bill for greater sharing of information of patients with substance use disorders

Some entities, such as ACOs, have to create work-arounds because they won't include substance use information due to existing regulations.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

America's Health Insurance Plans and the American Hospital Association are among organizations supporting a bill that would allow providers and payers to more freely share information of patients who have substance use disorders.

Both submitted their support in statements to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which took up HR 3545, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, on Tuesday.

The bill is a reform to a privacy law, said House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Chairman Michael Burgess, a physician. It would bring the records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, which allows for freer  access between healthcare entities.

Others see it as an invasion of privacy that undoes the regulation called 42 CFR Part 2, prohibiting the exchange of such records without a patient's consent. 

AHIP said it supports the bipartisan bill which would require that the medical records of patients with substance use disorders be treated exactly the same as the medical records of patients with other chronic illnesses.

The American Hospital Association reiterated its support of the bill which it said which would align 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA for the purpose of treatment, payment and healthcare operations

Proponents of the bill say existing regulations prevent providers from learning their patients' histories of substance abuse, which may affect medical treatment. 

Witness Gerald DeLoss, a partner with the law firm of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale in Chicago, told the committee that the coordination and integration of care is an issue. Independent agencies, such as accountable care organizations, have refused to allow this information to be included because of the Part 2 restrictions, he said. They have to create work-arounds.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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