By Soumi Saha, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
Premier has championed and eagerly awaited final regulations implementing the bipartisan CARES Act provisions to modernize a more than 40-year-old law that has impeded healthcare providers’ ability to diagnose, treat and prevent addiction and other opioid-related disorders. The final rule will amend substance use disorder confidentiality regulations to align with HIPAA's treatment, payment and operation protections—just like for every other disease and condition since 1996. This alignment is critical to allow appropriate access to patient information that is essential for providing an accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and whole-person care.
According to Premier data, the ongoing opioid epidemic continues to overwhelm hospitals with an estimated 66 million emergency department visits and 760,000 inpatient admissions at a cost of more than $95 billion each year. Premier’s data also revealed that there are significant health disparities among patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD), with such patients more likely to live below the poverty line than those without OUD. Removing the current information barrier to care coordination and health parity is a crucial step to curbing the opioid pandemic. Without access to a complete record, providers cannot properly treat the whole person and may, unknowingly, endanger a person’s recovery and his or her life.
At the same time, Premier is still awaiting separate rulemaking, required by the CARES Act, to prevent discriminatory actions against individuals in substance use disorder treatment or recovery. With lives and livelihoods on the line, Premier urges the Administration to expeditiously issue this nondiscrimination rulemaking to further protect patients from harm.