March 03, 2020

Manchin, Capito Reintroduce Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today reintroduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act to change existing privacy regulations, known as 42 CFR Part 2, surrounding medical records for those suffering with substance use disorder. The goal of the legislation is to save lives by ensuring that medical providers do not accidentally give opioids to individuals in recovery like in the case of Jessica Grubb. In order to ensure all parties involved are supported and heard in the implementation of this legislation, the reintroduction of the Legacy Act has several significant changes when compared with the version introduced earlier this Congress. To view the summary of changes to the Legacy Act, please click here.

“No family or community should ever have to go through the senseless and preventable tragedy that Jessica Grubb and her family had to endure. That is why today we are reintroducing this critical legislation, the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act. This bipartisan bill is essential to combatting the opioid epidemic and ensuring that these painful deaths are prevented. By making changes to the existing regulations regarding the medical records of patients with substance use disorder, we can save thousands of lives. No one should go to the doctor expecting to receive help and instead be thrown back into the nightmare of addiction. We must do more to combat this crisis as a country. The Legacy Act will help make sure we are combatting this epidemic, not contributing to it,” said Senator Manchin.

“The story of Jessie Grubb shows us how tragic this addiction epidemic truly is, and the effects that it has on families across West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “Enacting the Legacy Act in Jessie’s memory would ensure that all members of a patient’s treatment team have access to a person’s history of addiction, which would ultimately help us improve care coordination. Additionally, we would be taking a step in the right direction to remove the stigma behind opioid addiction, and help those who are struggling with substance abuse to receive the vital care that they need. My heart goes out to Jessie’s family, and I am confident that we can continue her legacy by helping prevent more senseless deaths in our communities.”

“It’s been four years since Jessie tragically died as a result of an opioid overdose.  It was a death that could have been and should have been avoided.  The Legacy Act, coupled with the previously-enacted “Jessie’s Law,” are crucial steps that will prevent needless deaths in the future.  While nothing can ever replace Jessie in our lives, it is comforting to know that other families will not have to endure similar pain,” said David Grubb, Jessica Grubb’s father.

“The Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act will modernize 42 CFR to enable health care providers to more easily coordinate the overall health care of persons with substance use disorder.  This is critical to assure that providers have timely information to provide high quality health care and prevent overdose death while still protecting individual privacy,” said Christina Mullins, Commissioner for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Behavioral Health.

“We thank Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) for their tireless efforts in combatting the opioid epidemic and introducing the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act. This life-saving bipartisan bill will improve patient safety, treatment, and outcomes across the care delivery spectrum for individuals with substance use disorders. Not only will it enhance care coordination, it will also strengthen existing patient privacy protections. Clinicians need access to a patient’s full medical history, including substance use disorder records, to assess risks and adequately care for a patient,” stated Maeghan Gilmore, MPH, Director, Government Affairs, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, and Chairperson, Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2.

“Though well-intentioned, current patient confidentiality requirements under 42 CFR Part 2 are outdated and do not reflect the way care is delivered today. The Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act modernizes 42 CFR Part 2, aligning it closely with the more contemporary standards under HIPAA while ensuring that sensitive clinical information about a patient’s history of substance use and abuse remains private and secure. We applaud Sen. Manchin for working diligently to improve coverage and care coordination for this patient population,” said Ceci Connolly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Community Health Plans.

The Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act is also sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

After battling substance use disorder for seven years, Jessie was sober and focusing on making a life for herself in Michigan. She was training to run in a marathon and had to undergo surgery for a running related injury. Her parents, David and Kate Grubb, went to Michigan for her surgery and told her doctors and hospital personnel that she was recovering from substance use disorder. However, after Jessie’s surgery, the discharging doctor, who said he didn’t know she was recovering from substance use disorder, sent her home with a prescription for 50 oxycodone pills. Before her death, David shared her story with President Obama when he came to Charleston for a town hall on the opioid epidemic. Her story had a deep impact on President Obama and she is often credited with inspiring him to dedicate more resources to fighting this devastating epidemic.