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December 01, 2022 (Cleveland, OH)

Federal, State Policy Developments Impact Patients with OUD, SUD

A federal rule announced this week would improve the exchange of patient records used in the treatment of substance use disorder and at the state level, proposed legislation would legalize fentanyl test strips.


HHS Proposes Change to Record Sharing on Patient’s Substance Use Disorder

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of public rulemaking this week to make it easier for providers to share patients’ substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records. This new provision would ensure providers have more accurate information when treating patients with SUD. HHS proposes these new provisions to implement section 3221 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and would allow for quick access to information when treating patients by including updated consent requirements and aligning disclosure requirements with those under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Currently, patients typically need to consent each time their substance use records are to be shared. Eliminating this will help ensure providers have access to all the information needed to properly treat patients. The American Hospital Association and American Society of Addiction Medicine are among the health organizations pushing for this change.

The final rule would go into effect 60 days after publication, but compliance would not be required for an additional 22 months. HHS is accepting comments on the rule for the next two months.


Ohio General Assembly Votes to Decriminalize Fentanyl Testing Strips

On Wed., Nov. 30, the Ohio House passed and sent to the Senate legislation that would legalize the possession of test strips used to identify the presence of fentanyl in drugs.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ohio has one of the highest overdose death rates in the United States with more than 5,000 people dying from overdoses in the past 12 months of data. Many of these deaths could be prevented with the proper use of fentanyl testing strips, which are currently illegal in numerous states, including Ohio.

Many health departments around the state offer free fentanyl testing strips for opioid users to detect fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that increases risk of overdose. Yet, state law considers the strips to be “drug paraphernalia,” possession of which is a misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail if convicted. Columbus Democratic Rep. Kristin Boggs introduced House Bill 456 in the Ohio General Assembly. The legislation would remove the prohibition against test strips and increase access to these harm reduction tools. 

Virtually all testimony offered to date on the bill has been favorable. Proponents of the legislation include hospitals, public health, pharmacists and the Ohio Attorney General.