Upcoming House Vote on Opioid Legislation

Next week, the House is expected to vote on multiple pieces of legislation to address the opioid epidemic, including several bills that will help improve mental health and substance use care for all Americans.

One bill up for a vote next week will address the fair and equal treatment of health, mental health and substance use conditions—including the fair treatment of all health information. NAMI has been actively working to align an outdated federal regulation known as 42 CFR Part 2, which keeps providers from accessing important information on a person’s substance use history, with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Providers who treat mental health and other health conditions need to know if a person has a substance use condition in order to treat all health conditions appropriately. Substance use—or a history of substance use—can change a treatment plan. Without knowledge of a person’s substance use, health care providers may take actions that can lead to:

  • Inappropriately prescribing opioid medications
  • Inadvertently triggering substance use relapse
  • Deaths due to overdose

Last month, to help advance this legislation, NAMI Ohio Policy Director Dustin McKee testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health to share the moving personal story of his brother, Brandon. Thanks in part to Dustin’s powerful testimony, the House will vote next week on H.R. 5795, the Protect the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records Act. By aligning 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA, the bill will allow for better integration and coordination of treatment—and better outcomes for people with mental health and substance use conditions.

In addition to H.R. 5795, there are a number of other bills being considered by the House, including legislation that will: 

  • Make it easier for people who have Medicare to access telemedicine for mental health and substance use care (Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorders Act - H.R. 5603);
  • Require the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cover mental health and substance use conditions (CHIP Mental Health Parity Act - H.R. 3192); and
  • Allow people using Medicare Part D to get prior authorization electronically from their health care providers for needed medications (PASS Act of 2018 - H.R. 5773).

Act now.  Ask your Representative to support these bills to address the opioid crisis and provide improved care for all people with mental health and substance use conditions. 

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