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Addiction research and care collide with federal privacy rules

from The New York Times

Researchers who want to study Medicare or Medicaid patients with substance-use disorders — and illnesses disproportionately affecting them like H.I.V. and hepatitis C — are, at best, working with biased data. At worst, they’re flying blind. That’s because agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, without public notice and because of patient privacy concerns, decided in 2013 to remove researchers’ access to certain types of Medicare and Medicaid data. Without these data — all relating, even tangentially, to patients with substance-use disorders — health researchers fear they will be hampered in their quest to improve care. more

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