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News Release
For Immediate Release: December 15, 1999

Comment Period Extended for Medical Privacy Rule

Americans Have Until February 17, 2000 to Comment on Proposed Medical Privacy Regulations

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the comment period for Americans to share their opinions about pending medical privacy regulations. The regulations were published on November 3, 1999 with the initial comment period ending January 3, 2000. However, the comment period was recently extended to February 17, 2000.

"This is good news," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom. "It will give busy Americans additional time to review the regulations and share their comments after the holiday season and millennium festivities."

The proposed federal medical privacy regulations will determine who has access to patients' medical information -- including genetic information -- when the United States adopts an electronic medical data system in 2000. By law, HHS is required to adopt new standards for processing medical claims electronically. The pending medical privacy regulations will set the terms for who has access to patients' electronic medical records and whether or not patients must give consent before their information is transmitted over the Internet.

"As they stand, the proposed privacy regulations legalize access to individuals' electronic medical records without patient consent. They give the federal government the power to decide whether or not patients' medical information is sent over the Internet," notes Blevins. "Individuals -- not the federal government -- should decide when, where, how and to whom their medical information is disclosed."

Concerned individuals can view the proposed medical privacy regulations and send electronic comments at the following web site: http://aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/. The Institute for Health Freedom's summary of the regulations is posted at the following web site: http://www.forhealthfreedom.org/Publications/Privacy/NeedToKnow.html.

Written comments should be mailed to:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Attention: Privacy-P
Room G-322A
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Be sure to include the full name, address, and telephone number of the sender.

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