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Statement on the Proposed Rule on the Confidentiality of Substance Use Data

By Soumi Saha, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs

Premier has championed and eagerly awaited 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 proposed 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.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to social isolation, high unemployment, and diversion of public health resources, also led to a nearly 30 percent increase in overdose deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, the changes needed to curb the opioid pandemic during the public health emergency by removing the current information barrier to care coordination and health parity has been stymied by the lack of corresponding regulations. Premier is particularly alarmed that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) continues to slow walk implementation by issuing at a future date a separate proposed rule to prevent the discriminatory treatment of patients with substance use disorders. Premier calls on the Administration to recognize that lives are at stake and to expedite these regulations. Premier also urges SAMHSA to ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need to expeditiously carry out the new regulations once they are finalized.

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