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For Immediate Release
November 4, 1999
 

Act Now To Protect Your Medical Privacy

Americans Have 60 Days to Comment on Proposed Medical Privacy Rule

Washington, D.C.-On November 3, the Clinton administration published its proposed rule that lays the groundwork for creating a "unique health identifier" for every American. "The first step is to promise privacy protections. Then the administration plans to create a unique health identifier for each and every American," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom.

"President Clinton is touting the new regulations, saying they would give the American public a new 'right' to medical privacy," states Blevins. "However, the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges -- in its summary of the proposed rule -- that there is no statutory authority for a private right of action for individuals to enforce their privacy rights." In other words, the public is being told they have a new right to privacy when, in fact, they can't sue or bring a private course of action for damages caused by a breach of confidentiality, under the rule.

"The American public deserves honest reporting on this very important issue," stresses Blevins. "The President is using doublespeak and is playing politics with medical privacy." In fact, if implemented, the proposed rule will give many people access -- through electronic databases -- to patients' medical information without first obtaining their consent.

The proposed rule would also permit public health officials to collect individually identifiable information -- including genetic information -- without consent, if such collection is used for public health activities, a term which is broadly defined.

The American public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule. The rule was published in the Federal Register, Wednesday, November 3, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 212, pages 59917-60066, 149 pages total). This information can be viewed online at:

http://www.hhs.gov/hottopics/healthinfo/index.html.

You can send comments at the following Website:

http://erm.aspe.hhs.gov/ora_web/plsql/erm_rule.rule?user_id=&rule_id=228.

Note: The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) will review the regulations and publish its analysis next week. IHF will post its comments at our Website at http://www.ForHealthFreedom.org.

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The public is being told they have a new right to medical privacy when, in fact, they can't sue or bring a private course of action for damages caused by a breach of confidentiality, under the rule.
 
 
 
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