The Opioid Epidemic Affects People With Mental Illness

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 NAMI has been actively working to align an outdated federal regulation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).
Before next week’s vote, we need NAMI leaders and advocates to urge their
Representatives to vote for these important pieces of legislation.
Advocacy alert

Subject line: ACT NOW: Opioid legislation moving
Next week, the House will consider multiple pieces of legislation to address the opioid
epidemic, and many of these bills will improve mental health and substance use care.
Representatives will consider 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).
The House will also vote on a bill that will treat health information fairly across all
conditions, improving outcomes for people with mental illness and substance use
disorders. An outdated federal regulation known as 42 CFR Part 2 keeps health care
providers from accessing information about a person’s substance use condition history,
which may lead to inappropriately prescribing opioid medications or inadvertently
triggering substance use relapse—and in some cases, leading to harmful health
consequences and even drug overdose deaths.
H.R. 5795, the Protect the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records
Act, will align 42 CFR Part 2 with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA) regulations. This will allow for better integration and coordination of treatment—
and better outcomes for people with mental health and substance use conditions.
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.


Email now.