Comment: One comment called on other federal agencies to examine their regulations and policies regarding the use and disclosure of protected health information. The comment suggested that other agencies revise their regulations and policies to avoid duplicative, contradictory, or more stringent requirements. The comment noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ("WIC") does not release WIC data. Because the commenter believed the regulation would not prohibit the disclosure of WIC data, the comment stated that the Department of Agriculture should now release such information.
Response: We support other federal agencies to whom the rules apply in their efforts to review existing regulations and policies regarding protected health information. However, we do not agree with the suggestion that other federal agencies that are not covered entities must reduce the protections or access-related rights they provide for individually identifiable health information they hold.