HHS Calls for Public
Comments on Final Medical Privacy Rule
Americans Must Respond
by March 30, 2001
(Washington, DC/March 1, 2001)--On February 28, the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a call
for public comments regarding the final federal
medical privacy rule. The final rule was published in
the Federal Register on December 28, 2000. Since
that time, HHS has received many inquiries about how
the rule would affect more than 600,000 health-care
providers and institutions, as well as virtually every
"Individuals who care about their medical privacy
should immediately write to HHS," says Sue Blevins,
president of the Institute for Health Freedom. "There
are many competing interests battling for HHS' ear on
this important topic. Although the informed consent
provisions included in the final rule are weak, some
groups want to eliminate those consent protections
altogether. Citizens should let HHS know how they feel
about third parties accessing their medical records
without their consent."
Here are some issues to consider regarding the final
medical privacy rule:
- Who should decide which third parties are permitted
to see your medical records?
- Should the federal government's Secretary of Health
and Human Services and/or Office for Civil Rights
be permitted to access your medical records without
- Which third parties, if any, should have access
to your medical records without your noncoerced consent?
(Banks, law enforcement, researchers, insurers, employers,
public health officials, FDA, foreign government officials,
marketing companies, or state government agencies.)
To make sure your voice is heard, here are a few suggestions
for submitting comments:
- HHS says you must cite specific sections of the
rule when submitting comments (see attached sample
letter). If you aren't specific, HHS might not consider
- If possible, send your comments via priority mail
and/or certified mail. HHS must receive your
comments by March 30, 2001 by 5:00 pm.
- HHS is NOT accepting comments by phone or fax; HHS
says it will destroy such submissions.
- Mail your comments to:
| U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: Privacy I
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Ave., SW,
Washington, DC 20201.
- HHS says all comments should include the
following information: full name, address and telephone
number of the sender or a knowledgeable point of contact.
- Here is a sample form letter commenting on important
sections of the final medical privacy rule:
- Although mailing comments is preferred, you can
submit your comments at the following Web site: http://aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/.
For more information about the medical privacy
rule, visit IHF's Web site: