New Privacy Laws Designed to Protect Those Facing Addiction Are Counter-Intuitive

As more and more people begin seeking help and get treatment from substance use disorders across the nation, it will become increasingly apparent that a brush with the healthcare system can have some effects on an individual’s future. All patient’s have the right to privacy when it comes to their healthcare and it’s important to understand what the laws really mean.

As substance abuse disorders continue to take hold of many lives across our nation, local and federal policy makers are working hard to implement a set of 58 bills designed with those faced with addiction and recovery in mind. While some of them seem helpful, many seem harmful.

One such bill, HR 6082, seeks to end the current federal regulation of 42 CFR Part 2 that adds an extra layer of patient privacy regarding substance abuse treatment. The new bill, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act appears to be counter-productive to it’s current title.

The current protections of 42 CFR Part 2 help ensure that individual’s who’ve sought medical treatment for addiction aren’t then being discriminated against for their past. Discrimination occurs in many ways against anyone who must disclose information regarding mental health or substance abuse disorders, job offers are denied or rescinded, rental applications denied, and much more.

Why such information about people is so highly stigmatized is still, currently, is beyond us. But the protection of these regulations is being threated all in the name of convenience. Support for the new bill, which would remove that added layer of protection or in other words, be less administrative work, include vendors of electronic health records, insurers, and some medical and hospital associations.

Doctors and medical staff alike don’t like the added nuisance of these protections but taking away the rights of patients regarding privacy and matters that will affect them for the rest of their lives surely isn’t the answer.

Ashford, R. “Treatment Privacy Laws Protect Me and 43 Million Other Americans Living with Addiction or In Recovery”. Stat News. (website). July 2018
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