April 27, 2015

Undoing the suppression of substance use data

Editor’s Note: All privacy-related regulatory proceedings from Executive Branch agencies are subject to OIRA review. 

From: The Incidental Economist | Contemplating health care with a focus on research, an eye on reform.

Nicholas Bagley

In welcome news for the research community, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is planning on proposing a rule to restore research access to substance use data in Medicare and Medicaid files.


The rule could get derailed at any one of the next six steps. In particular, the rule could easily get stuck at step four: review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), part of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. In my prior academic work, I’ve written about how OIRA oversight of agency rulemaking puts a drag on rulemaking since any given rule can get entangled in bureaucratic or political snarls. That’s especially so when the rule raises sensitive questions about personal privacy.

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