June 13, 2001
Only three days left to kill
Federal anti-privacy regulation
We have an urgent request: Please pick up the
phone and call Congress today, or the fight for medical
privacy could be lost. That is because the Health and
Human Services regulation that turns your medical data
over to the government will go into effect permanently --
unless Congress passes HJR 38 by Friday, June 15.
Please read this short memo, immediately take the
action at the bottom, then forward it to others who might
On April 14, President Bush quietly directed
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to
impose the so-called "medical privacy regulations" that
were originally developed by the Clinton administration.
Bush's maneuver came despite the fact that the HHS had
been inundated with nearly 100,000 angry letters and
e-mails from Americans around the country.
The most dangerous aspect of this regulation --
and the one most overlooked in news reports -- is that
for the first time the government, rather than patients
and doctors, would be in complete control of your
private medical records. That's because the regulation
forces doctors and hospitals to share all electronic
medical records with the government for a variety of
vague purposes, such as to "streamline medical billing
procedures" or for "public health surveillance." Then the
government, rather than individual patients, will decide
who gets to see them.
No wonder Americans are so worried. This
regulation, which was published in the Federal Register
on December 28, 2000, would:
* Give dozens of government agencies and thousands
of bureaucrats access to your medical records --
including the private notes of a psychotherapist
-- without your consent.
* Let government agencies share your records with
marketing companies. The rules specifically allow
pharmacies to share prescription records "for the
purpose of marketing health-related products and
services" without your consent.
* Do nothing to prevent the government from
accessing your DNA information and transferring
it to "third parties."
* Permit police agencies to access medical records
without a search warrant.
* Allow private insurance companies to compile the
medical information into a database.
* Prevent patients involved in health research
projects from accessing their own medical records
in some cases.
How would you like a prospective employer to know
that you have a "genetic predisposition" to contract a serious,
and expensive, illness?
What if an acquaintance who worked for an insurance
company or government agency could read the private notes of
your psychotherapist, or find out if you have ever undergone
drug or alcohol treatment?
Would you want others to know whether you've had an
abortion or been treated for an embarrassing disease?
All of those things could happen if this
Clinton-Bush regulation is allowed to stand.
That's why it's so important to pick up the phone
and call your U.S. representative today. If we can't get
Congress to vote on HJR 38 by Friday, you can kiss your
medical privacy goodbye!
WHAT TO DO:
Call your U.S. House representative immediately at
202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 to request an immediate vote on
House Joint Resolution 38 (HJR 38). This measure, sponsored
by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, declares that the HHS
regulation "shall have no force or effect."
WHAT TO SAY:
(1) Identify yourself and let them know you are a
voter in their district. Leave your name, address, complete
with ZIP code, and phone number. Please be brief, especially
if you are leaving a message.
(2) Ask them to tell House Speaker Dennis Hastert to
schedule an immediate vote on HJR 38. Let them know that this
measure must pass Congress by Friday -- or the HHS rules will
remain in effect.
(3) Ask them to vote *YES* on HJR 38. Then ask for a
letter confirming their position.
Is there anything else you can do? Yes! Please
forward this E-mail to a friend, and ask them to call their
representative as well.
Thank you for your help!