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Privacy Rule

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03/05/2001
Privacy Rule

Date: 3/5/2001
News: Re: Privacy Rule Re-opened for Public Comments

On Friday, February 23rd, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson announced the Department would re-examine the final rule creating new federal privacy rights for personal health information, the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information.” The rule is intended to ensure patients that the privacy of their medical records is secure, and to ensure that this information is used appropriately. Secretary Thompson stated the privacy rules will be opened to a 30-day public comment period beginning this week. The Federal Register notice was not published as of February 26th.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the DHHS was legally required to submit the privacy regulation for consideration by the Congress for a 60-day period. Due to an oversight under the Clinton Administration, the requirement was not met, and as a result, the Congressional review did not begin until February 13th. Therefore, the effective date of the privacy regulation has been delayed until April 14th. The unexpected delay created an opportunity for the Bush Administration to review the final rule, and determine if any changes are necessary.

Secretary Thompson announced it is the goal of the DHHS to “achieve privacy protection that works.” The Department is committed to hearing the concerns of the public and moving quickly to put “strong and effective patient privacy protections” into effect.

We will forward the address and closing date of the public comment period as the information is made available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.