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News Release
For Immediate Release: July 22, 1999

Attention Medical Privay Advocates:
Congress Needs Your Input by August 3!


The debate over medical privacy is heating up on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, July 20, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to discuss what to do about the looming August 21 deadline. (Congress must pass a medical privacy law by August 21, 1999, or the Clinton Administration gets to set the rules for medical confidentiality.)

Chaired by Congressman William Thomas (R-CA), the Subcommittee invited special interest groups (hospital, medical school, and insurance representatives), academicians, and government agencies to advise Congress on how to balance individuals' privacy concerns with researchers' need for medical [data].

"True privacy advocates weren't included in the debate," says Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom. "But there are still two weeks left for privacy advocates to express their own opinions about how they'd like to see Congress proceed with medical confidentiality protections." The Subcommittee is accepting public comments until August 3. [For information about submitting your comments, see Congressman Thomas' July 13 advisory] or call the Subcommittee at (202) 225-3943.

Here are several key issues to consider:

  • Should researchers be required to obtain written consent before accessing your medical information (both identifiable and non-identifiable information)?
  • Should patients be forced to share personal medical information with law enforcement officials who are investigating insurance fraud and abuse cases?
  • Should homebound seniors be forced to share personal information - such as emotional, sexual, and financial details - with the federal Medicare agency?
If you're concerned about these issues, then submit your written comments by August 3 or place a phone call by August 7. The number to the Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 225-3121.

For more information about medical privacy, visit the Institute for Health Freedom's Web site at http://www.ForHealthFreedom.org.

Based in Washington, D.C., the Institute for Health Freedom is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center providing a forum for exchanging ideas about health freedom. The Institute works with scholars and policy experts in the areas of economics, health care, law, philosophy, and the sciences to foster public debate.