A bill that has a good chance of becoming law this year would allow doctors and hospitals to access a patient’s medical records involving alcohol and drug abuse without the patient’s consent.
The bill would repeal a 1970 law that requires specific written consent for access to substance abuse records.
H.R. 3545 is backed by the Trump Administration and may become part of a bipartisan legislative package designed to address the opioid crisis. Lawmakers hope to pass the package by the early summer of 2018.
The bill has 19 Republican and 12 Democratic co-sponsors, and is supported by a broad coalition of mental health providers and insurance companies.
Backers say lack of access to addiction records can result in inappropriate treatment, misdiagnoses, and harmful drug interactions. But opponents say the bill deprives patients of privacy, and could cause some people to avoid seeking substance abuse treatment in the first place.