For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2001
Senate to Hold "Public"
Hearing on Final Medical Privacy Rule
Will True Privacy
Advocates' Voices Be Heard?
Washington, D.C.--On Thursday, February 8, the U.S. Senate
Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) will
hold a "public" hearing on the final federal medical privacy
rule. It will be Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's first HELP
Committee hearing on specific policy issues. Invited witnesses
include representatives from government, health insurance
and medical industries, and advocates supportive of the former
Administration's medical privacy rule (announced on December
"It is not clear whether the Senate HELP Committee is giving
the public adequate time to learn about this important hearing,
to draft questions for their Senators to ask of selected witnesses,
or to submit their own written testimony for the record,"
said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom
Blevins stressed, "I don't think the invited witness list
represents the American public's views on medical privacy."
Her assertion is based on a national Gallup survey commissioned
by IHF. The survey found that 78 percent of Americans are
very concerned about the confidentiality of their medical
records. The survey also found that a majority of Americans
oppose allowing third parties--including government agencies--access
to their medical records without the patient's consent. "Yet,
the final medical privacy rule actually gives the federal
government a massive new power to access everyone's medical
records--without the patient's consent--in order to monitor
the patient's medical privacy," Blevins said. "Under the new
rule, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will
have unfettered access to every doctor's office and his or
her patients' records without a subpoena, in order to `monitor'
Americans' privacy. I don't think the public would agree with
this massive government power, if they knew about it."
"Most of the special interest groups working with Congress
and the federal government on privacy issues actually have
a vested interest in securing unfettered access to individuals'
personal health records, including their genetic information.
Let's hope the Senate HELP Committee will give the American
public an equal opportunity and plenty of time to submit their
written testimony for the record," said Blevins.
The national Gallup survey on medical privacy can be
accessed at the following Web site: www.ForHealthFreedom.org/Gallupsurvey.