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Kirk Nahra Discusses Impact of Opioid National Emergency Declaration on HIPAA Disclosure Rules

Politico
August 11, 2017

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice, was quoted in Politico’s Morning eHealth on August 11 regarding President Trump’s recent declaration that the opioid crisis has become a national emergency. The declaration provides the government with quicker access to funds to respond to the crisis and allows it to waive HIPAA privacy rules, but since health care providers already have a good deal of discretion to disclose information to loved ones with reasonable judgment, the waiver may not be that impactful.

“A hospital, for example, has a permitted basis to disclose for public health purposes even without a declared emergency,” Mr. Nahra said. “It might ease some disclosures a bit but the issue tends to be a reluctance to disclose (or confusion on whether disclosure is permitted) not a legal prohibition on disclosing.”

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