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News Release

Hospital Association Urges HHS to Eliminate Citizens' Right to
Public Health Disclosure Information

January 6, 2005

Thee American Hospital Association (AHA) is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to eliminate your right to know if your health information has been disclosed for public health purposes. Under the federal medical privacy rule, citizens can get an accounting of disclosures of their medical records for purposes other than treatment, payment and health-care operations. (These three categories encompass many uses of health information.) Currently, citizens are entitled to know if their health information was disclosed to public health officials for purposes such as tracking communicable diseases or placement in a cancer or other disease registry.

Some have argued that no one is exercising this right. But others respond that few patients even know they have this right. HHS is currently reconsidering the issue.

What Can You Do?

You can share your views with HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency responsible for administering the privacy rule.

E-mail: OCRMail@hhs.gov
Call: OCR toll-free at (800) 368-1019
Write: Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 509F, Hubert H. Humphrey Building
Washington, DC 20201

You also can ask your federal representatives and other officials to change the law to ensure that you have final say over disclosure of your health information.

Source: "Hospital Group to Urge Thompson to Exempt Public Health Disclosures from HIPAA Rule," BNA's Health Care Policy Report, November 8, 2004.