CNS Communiqué

CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is launching a new campaign to inform the public about civil rights protections regarding evidence-based opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and recovery services, including Medication Assisted Treatment.

The campaign clarifies civil rights protections that may apply to persons with OUD by making covered entities aware of their obligations under federal nondiscrimination laws, including laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability or limited English proficiency.  Covered entities are those receiving federal assistance from HHS, such as hospitals and health clinics, nursing homes, substance use disorder treatment programs, TANF and child welfare programs.  In addition, the campaign seeks to educate the public about disability rights protections that may apply to persons in recovery from an opioid addiction.  OCR also released important guidance explaining when HIPAA permits health care providers and other covered entities to share a patient’s health information with loved ones and others involved in a patient’s care.