Medical Privacy & Washington's "New Math"

        
April 12, 2001


Dear liberty activist,

Only in Washington does 13,535 equal 1.  The comments of the thousands of you who expressed your concerns about the final medical privacy rule were ignored - that's what the bureaucrats at Health and Human Services (HHS) are saying.

I was told today - the same day HHS Secretary Thompson announced his decision to proceed with the final medical privacy rule - that the 13,535 people who submitted their names and addresses on our petition would be counted as one comment.

We spearheaded a nationwide petition drive so American citizens could comply with the strict HHS guidelines as to the form and specific content of comments HHS would accept.  As a result, thousands of you expressed your informed objections to specific parts of this wide-sweeping, final medical privacy rule that, in reality, gives the federal government and third parties broad access to your most personal medical records WITHOUT your consent.  Examples of third parties and purposes for which access to your records is granted include:

1. Oversight of the health care system;
2. FDA monitoring (including dietary supplements);
3. Public health surveillance and activities;
4. Foreign governments collaborating with U.S. public health officials;
5. Research (if an Institutional Review Board or privacy board waives consent);
6. Law enforcement activities;
7. Judicial and administrative proceedings;
8. HHS-Office of Civil Rights.

During a 10-day period, 13,535 of us used our petition to take advantage of
Secretary Thompson's reopening of the comment period and object to
government's invasion of our privacy.

It's right out of the "Twilight Zone":  13,535 equals 1; a federal medical privacy
rule that will actually give us less privacy - not more.  To make matters worse,
based on Secretary Thompson's statement today, it doesn't appear that he will
address the concerns expressed in our petition.

Here's the contact information for Secretary Tommy Thompson:

Secretary Tommy Thompson
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
(202) 619-0257
Toll Free: 1-877-696-6775
E-mail:  hhsmail@os.dhhs.gov .

Working for passage of H.J. Res. 38 is our next move.  H.J. Res. 38 was submitted under the Congressional Review Act of 1996 by Congressman Ron Paul.  The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to repeal a federal agency's regulation on an expedited basis by a specific deadline.  The deadline for passage of H.J. Res. 38 is June 15, 2001.  To urge your U.S. representative to work for passage of H.J. Res. 38, go to
http://capwiz.com/liberty/issues/bills/?billnum=H.J.RES.38&congress=107 .


Kent Snyder
The Liberty Committee


 

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