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BUSH ADMINISTRTION TO WEAKEN FEDERAL MEDICAL PRIVACY RULE FOR ADULTS

For Immediate Release: March 22, 2002
Contact: Institue for Health Freedom - Sue Blevins 202/429-6610

Washington, D.C.-On March 21, 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it is revising the federal medical privacy rule initially proposed by the Clinton Administration. HHS's new "Fact Sheet" says the revised rule is going to eliminate the requirement that says doctors must get patients' consent before releasing patients' health information for treatment, payment or health care operations. That consent provision was demanded by thousands of citizens across the country. Citizens should get ready to read carefully the forthcoming rule that will be published in the Federal Register next week (according to a HHS source). The forthcoming revised rule is going to set the federal standards for who can legally access each and every American's personal health information with-or without-individuals' informed consent.

For more information about the federal medical privacy rule, visit the Institute for Health Freedom's Web site: www.ForHealthFreedom.org. Also, following is a chronology of the federal medical privacy rule.

CHRONOLOGY OF THE FEDERAL MEDICAL PRIVACY RULE

  • 1993: Clinton health care plan ("Health Security Act" S. 1757; introduced 11/20/93) included a provision titled "Information Systems, Privacy and Administrative Simplification." That provision laid the groundwork for a national health information system. It called for assigning a "unique health identifier" to all citizens for tracking their health information.

  • 8/21/96: "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act" (HIPAA) [Public Law 104-191] signed into law on August 21, 1996. It includes a provision titled "Administrative Simplification" that is very similar to the Clinton provision proposed above, including a provision to assign all citizens a "unique health identifier." [That provision has been put on hold temporarily for the past four years.] The HIPAA law mandated Congress to pass a medical privacy law by August 21, 1999 or HHS must promulgate a rule.

  • 8/21/99: Congress missed its self-imposed deadline.

  • Oct. 1999: Clinton's HHS announced a proposed federal medical privacy rule.

  • 2/17/2000: Public comment period closed (more than 52,000 comments were submitted). Conservative, liberal and libertarian organizations and individuals submitted comments to HHS opposing third parties accessing patients' medical information without patients' consent. However, many medical industry groups want access to patient information without patients' consent.

  • Dec. 2000: Clinton's HHS published a final federal medical privacy rule.

  • Feb. 2001: Bush's HHS re-opens comment period for the final federal medical privacy rule.

  • Apr. 2001: President Bush approved moving forward with final rule with plans to modify it.

  • Mar. 2002: President Bush will publish a REVISED federal medical privacy rule in the Federal Register for a (short?) public comment period.

  • Apr. 2003-2004: Health care providers, plans and clearinghouses must come into compliance with the federal medical privacy rule by April 14, 2003 (April 14, 2004 for small health plans).