HHS Office for Civil Rights launches tools to combat the US opioid epidemic

HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched a host of initiatives to assist in alleviating the opioid epidemic while also implementing the 21st Century Cures Act.

The tools include efforts to secure sharing of information to families to prevent an overdose or mental health crisis. Additionally, the 21st Century Cure Act aims teach the researchers, patients and their families how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects privacy and improves health.

Actions include:

  • Creating two HIPAA websites that provide information on mental and behavioral health to professionals and consumers that will reorganize guidance and clarify what HIPAA covers.
  • New collaboration with partner agencies to identify and develop model programs for training of providers, patients and families on what is permitted in sharing patient health information.  
  • Updated guidance on HIPAA and research.
  • A working study to identify uses and disclosures under HIPAA of protected health information for research purposes.

“President Trump has mobilized the entire administration to address America’s opioid crisis,” said Roger Severino, Director of OCR. “HHS is using every tool at its disposal to help communities devastated by opioids including educating families and doctors on how they can share information to help save the lives of loved ones.”