The Strange State of Substance Use Disorder Information Sharing

By: Alexander Dworkowitz
– Bloomberg BNA

When Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy officially resigned from the House in October, media attention focused on the health policy issue at the center of Murphy’s resignation: abortion. Congressman Murphy officially opposed abortion rights, but through text messages, the married father urged his girlfriend to obtain an abortion.

But little was said about the potential impact of his departure on another health policy issue relevant to the congressman: the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) information. In July, Congressman Murphy had introduced the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, or H.R. 3545. Among other things, the law would have rewritten the Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act to allow the sharing of patients’ SUD information without patients’ consent for purposes of “treatment, payment, or health care operations,” as those terms are used under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.