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Federal Register: December 15, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 240)

[Federal Register: December 15, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 240)]

[Proposed Rules]

[Page 69981-69982]




45 CFR Parts 160 through 164

RIN 0991-AB08

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, DHHS.

ACTION: Notice of extension of comment period for proposed rule.

SUMMARY: This notice extends the comment period on a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 3, 1999 (64 FR 59918). The original date that the comment period would end was January 3, 2000. That date will now be extended until February 17, 2000.

In that rule, we propose standards to protect the privacy of individually identifiable health information maintained or transmitted in connection with certain administrative and financial transactions. The proposed rules, which would apply to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and certain health care providers, proposed standards with respect to the rights individuals who are the subject of this information should have, procedures for the exercise of those rights, and the authorized and required uses and disclosures of this information.

The use of these standards would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public and private health programs and health care services by providing enhanced protections for individually identifiable health information. These protections would begin to address growing public concerns that advances in electronic technology in the health care industry are resulting, or may result, in a substantial erosion of the privacy surrounding individually identifiable health information maintained by health care providers, health plans and their administrative contractors. This rule would implement the privacy requirement of the Administrative Simplification subtitle of the Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

DATES: The comment period is extended to no later than 5 p.m. on February 17, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Submit electronic comments at the following web site: http:/ /

Mail comments (1 original, 3 copies, and, if possible, a floppy disk) to the following address: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Attention: Privacy-P, Room G-322A, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201.

If you prefer, you may deliver your written comments (1 original, 3 copies, and, if possible, a floppy disk) to the following address: Room 442E, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201.

See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further information on comment procedures, availability of copies of this document and electronic access to this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roxanne Gibson (202) 260-5083.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Reason for extension, comment procedures, availability of copies, and electronic access.

Reason for extension: We originally proposed a 60-day period for public comment of this proposed rule. The original comment period would have closed on January 3, 2000. Because of the scope of the proposed rule, the significant implications for the health care system and the substantial public interest in the proposed rule, we believe that additional time would allow for more informative and thoughtful comments. Therefore, we are extending the comment period until February 15, 2000.

Comment procedures: All comments should include the full name, address and telephone number of the sender or a knowledgeable point of contact. Written comments should include 1 original and 3 copies. If possible, please send an electronic version of the comments on a 3\1/2\ inch DOS format floppy disk in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) (preferred) HTML, ASCII text, or popular word processor format (Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect).

Because of staffing and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by electronic mail or facsimile (FAX) transmission, and all comments and content are to be limited to the 8.5 wide by 11.0 high vertical (also referred to as ``portrait'') page orientation. Additionally, it is requested that if identical/duplicate comment submissions are submitted both electronically and in paper form that each submission clearly indicate that it is a duplicate submission. In each comment, please specify the section of this proposed rule to which the comment applies.

Comments received in a timely fashion will be available for public inspection, as they are received, generally beginning approximately three weeks after publication of a document in Room 442E of the Department's offices at 200 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20201 on Monday through Friday of each week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (phone: 202-260-5083).

After the close of the comment period, comments submitted electronically and written comments that we are technically able to convert will be posted on the Administrative Simplification web site (

Copies: To order copies of the Federal Register containing this document, send your request to: New Orders, Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. Specify the date of the issue requested and enclose a check or money order payable to the Superintendent of Documents, or enclose your Visa or Master Card number and expiration date. Credit card orders can also be placed by calling the order desk at (202) 512-1800 or by fax to (202) 512-2250. The cost for each copy is $8.00. As an alternative, you can view and photocopy the Federal Register document at most libraries designated as Federal Depository Libraries and at many other public and academic libraries throughout the country that receive the Federal Register.

Electronic Access: This document is available electronically at as well as at the web site of the Government Printing Office at

Note to reader: This proposed rule is one of several proposed rules that are being published to implement the Administrative Simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. We propose to establish a new 45 CFR subchapter C, Parts 160 through 164. Part 160 will consist of general provisions, Part 162 will consist of the various Administrative Simplification regulations relating to transactions and identifiers, and Part 164 will consist of the regulations implementing the security and privacy requirements of the legislation. Proposed Part 160, consisting of two subparts (Subpart A--General Provisions, and Subpart B--Preemption of State Law) will be exactly the same in each rule, unless we add new sections or definitions to incorporate additional general information in the later rules.

Dated: December 10, 1999.

Donna Shalala,


[FR Doc. 99-32484 Filed 12-10-99; 3:23 pm]