McNees Minute: Overdose Prevention and Safety Act

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After a failed attempt in 2018, two bipartisan bills have been reintroduced earlier this year to amend federal privacy laws.   The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act and Legacy Act would eliminate restrictions on access to substance abuse treatment records. 

Currently, such records must be kept separate from other records. Healthcare providers are generally not permitted to review them except with written consent.  The proposed law would eliminate this requirement.  It would also permit disclosure of substance abuse treatment records for certain purposes as in the HIPPA privacy rule. 

Supporters believe it will improve the quality of health care because it would allow providers to know the patient’s full medical history.  Opposers believe it would discourage individuals from seeking treatment for fear of facing discrimination and other adverse consequences. 

These bills are still in the early stages of the legislative process and must be approved by congress to become law.

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