HUNTINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (Legacy Act), legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., as part of the third COVID-19 emergency funding package. The Legacy Act will change existing privacy regulations, known as 42 CFR Part 2, surrounding medical records for those suffering with substance use disorder.
The goal of the Legacy Act is to save lives by ensuring that medical providers do not accidentally give opioids to individuals in recovery like in the case of Charleston native Jessica Grubb. Manchin said the legislation is especially important as the country's healthcare systems and front line providers are facing an unprecedented pandemic.
Grubb's story was first shared by her father, David Grubb, in 2015 when President Barack Obama visited the capitol city to learn more about the opioid epidemic. Jessica Grubb had found recovery from her opioid addiction, but a running accident landed her in surgery. Though she told her doctor she was in recovery from substance use disorder, an outgoing physician prescribed her 50 high-strength pain medication, and she died after an overdose.
“Last night we secured Jessica Grubb’s legacy," Manchin said in a press release. "The Senate passage of the Legacy Act puts us one step closer to saving countless lives and continuing our fight against the opioid epidemic that has ravaged our state. Nobody should go into a hospital seeking help and leave addicted. I am so proud of this legislation and the hard work that has gone into changing the way our medical system treats substance use disorder to avoid tragic situations like what happened to Jessica Grubb. The Grubb Family continues to inspire me as they fight alongside me to remember Jessie’s legacy by making our systems safer for others. Our fight against this crisis is far from over, and I will continue to advocate for change in Washington to help those in West Virginia and across America who have been affected by this terrible epidemic. I look forward to the House of Representatives passing this important legislation and sending the Legacy Act to the president’s desk for his signature."
The law compliments “Jessie’s Law,” which was included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and was signed into law in 2018. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices for prominently displaying a history of opioid use disorder in the patient’s medical records.
“It’s been four years since Jessie tragically died as a result of an opioid overdose," David Grubb said in the release. "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."