Legislation to keep opioid prescriptions away from recovering addicts reintroduced in Senate

Legislation to keep opioid prescriptions away from recovering addicts reintroduced in Senate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), along with a bipartisan group of 14 cosponsors, re-introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at keeping medical providers from giving opioid prescriptions to recovering addicts.

S. B. 1012, or the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act, would change privacy regulations so that healthcare providers would have access to the medical records of patients with substance abuse disorders. By letting healthcare providers know patients have addiction issues, the law hopes to prevent those providers from prescribing those patients with opioid prescriptions.

The re-introduced bill addresses conflicts with existing privacy regulations, known as 42 CFR Part 2, that have been in existence since the 1970s, well before HIPAA legislation.

The bill is named after Jessica Grubb, a West Virginia woman who was recovering from drug addiction when a running injury sent her to the hospital for surgery. There, a physician prescribed her opioids as part of her recovery. Grubb died of an opioid overdose the next day.

“The story of Jessie Grubb shows us how tragic this addiction epidemic truly is, and the effects that it has on families across West Virginia,” Sen. Capito said. “Enacting the Legacy Act in Jessie’s memory would ensure that all members of a patient’s treatment team have access to a person’s history of addiction, which would ultimately help us improve care coordination. Additionally, we would be taking a step in the right direction to remove the stigma behind opioid addiction and help those who are struggling with substance abuse to receive the vital care that they need.”

West Virginia has been called “Ground Zero” for the opioid crisis and is one of the states most severely affected by it. The bill is supported by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

“The Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act will modernize 42 CFR to enable health care providers to more easily coordinate the overall health care of persons with substance use disorder. This is critical to assure that providers have timely information to provide high quality health care and prevent overdose death while still protecting individual privacy,” said Christina Mullins, Commissioner for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Behavioral Health.