April 11, 2003
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
- CDC publishes guidance on HIPAA Privacy Rule and
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April 11, 2003
CDC PUBLISHES GUIDANCE ON HIPAA PRIVACY RULE AND PUBLIC HEALTH
On April 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published
"HIPAA Privacy Rule and Public Health: Guidance from CDC and the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services" as a "MMWR Early Release" report.
CDC issues the web-based Early Release only for the immediate release of
important public health information. The report will be published in a
future issue of "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."
The report presents an overview of the privacy rule and discusses the
privacy rule and public health, the privacy rule and public health research,
and the privacy rule and other laws. Two appendices accompany the
report: "Appendix A: Selected Privacy Rule Concepts and Definitions" and
"Appendix B: Sample Text That Can Be Used To Clarify Public Health Issues
Under the Privacy Rule." The report summary is reprinted below in its
New national health information privacy standards have been issued by the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), pursuant to the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The new
regulations provide protection for the privacy of certain individually
identifiable health data, referred to as protected health information (PHI).
Balancing the protection of individual health information with the need to
protect public health, the Privacy Rule expressly permits disclosures
without individual authorization to public health authorities authorized by
law to collect or receive the information for the purpose of preventing or
controlling disease, injury, or disability, including but not limited
to public health surveillance, investigation, and intervention.
Public health practice often requires the acquisition, use, and exchange of
PHI to perform public health activities (e.g., public health surveillance,
program evaluation, terrorism preparedness, outbreak investigations,
direct health services, and public health research). Such information
enables public health authorities to implement mandated activities (e.g.,
identifying, monitoring, and responding to death, disease, and
disability among populations) and accomplish public health objectives.
Public health authorities have a long history of respecting the
confidentiality of PHI, and the majority of states as well as the federal
government have laws that govern the use of, and serve to protect,
identifiable information collected by public health authorities.
The purpose of this report is to help public health agencies and others
understand and interpret their responsibilities under the Privacy Rule.
Elsewhere, comprehensive DHHS guidance is located at the HIPAA website of
the Office for Civil Rights (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/).
To obtain the complete text of the report online, go to:
To obtain the text of Appendix A online, go to:
To obtain the text of Appendix B online, go to:
To obtain a camera-ready (PDF format) copy of the report, including Appendix
A and Appendix B, go to:
HOW TO OBTAIN A FREE ELECTRONIC SUBSCRIPTION TO THE MMWR:
To obtain a free electronic subscription to the "Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report" (MMWR), visit CDC's MMWR website at:
"Free Subscription" from the menu at the left of the screen. Once you have
submitted the required information, weekly issues of the MMWR and all new
ACIP statements (published as MMWR's "Recommendations and Reports") will
arrive automatically by email.