APA Responds to Passage of H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, and Separate Bill to Amend 42 CFR Part 2

Washington, D.C. – Today the House of Representatives passed broad legislation intended to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act contains a number of initiatives to curb the epidemic including improved coverage and access to treatment for patients suffering from substance use disorders (SUD).“The opioid epidemic is one of the most serious public health crises in America today,” said American Psychiatric Association (APA) President Altha Stewart, M.D. “Decades of research have shown that substance use disorders are chronic diseases of the brain. Effective treatments for opioid use disorder exist, but there are many barriers preventing people from receiving the care they need. We are encouraged to see Congress, in particular the House, taking action to address the need for treatment and support for people living with opioid use disorder.”The APA recently joined five other medical associations, collectively representing more than 560,000 physicians and medical students, to call on Congress to adopt policies that recognize opioid use disorder as a chronic brain disease that requires comprehensive treatment. The six groups issued joint principles calling for financial incentives to ensure access to evidence-based treatment, reducing the administrative burdens of providing substance use treatment, advancing research on substance use disorders, ensuring a public health approach is taken, addressing the maternal-child health aspect of opioid abuse and continuing to provide comprehensive pain management to patients.Earlier this week, the House passed another bill, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety (OPPS) Act. H.R. 6082, that also helps doctors address the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders. The bill aligns 42 CFR Part 2, a regulation that governs the confidentiality of substance use treatment records with HIPAA requirements. The alignment of 42 CFR Part 2 and HIPAA will allow for care coordination and integration of treatment, improve patient outcomes, help to reduce stigma by treating addiction like all other illnesses, and protect confidentiality.“This law will allow our doctors to better treat patients with substance use disorders by giving them access to much-needed information, while still protecting the patient” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “This will ensure that patients are not harmed due to a provider not receiving some medical information. We applaud the House for taking this action and we urge the Senate to pass this legislation.”American Psychiatric AssociationThe American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.