Update October 2006: The United States Supreme Court declined to hear Citizens for

Health v. Michael O. Leavitt, the case supported by Patient Privacy Rights and 9 other organizations across the country representing 750,000 consumers. See news story.

Patient Privacy Rights will continue its fight to restore Americans’ right to medical privacy through legislation.

In 2003, before the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation was formed, two members of our board (Deborah Peel, MD and Robert Pyles, MD) were instrumental in filing a federal lawsuit to restore every American’s right to control who can see and use his/her medical records.

At the time, no privacy watchdog organizations, health or disease-based organizations, medical professional organizations, or consumer advocacy organizations were acting to save those rights or inform the nation.

Most members of the Administration, Congress, the media, and the public simply did not understand that their medical privacy rights had been eliminated by a federal agency.

As a small band of individuals, they were unable to bring the loss of medical privacy to the nation’s attention. The only option available to restore the entire nation’s medical privacy rights was by using the legal system — by asking the courts to invalidate the federal regulations which eliminated patients’ fundamental Constitutional rights.

About The Lawsuit – Restoring Medical PrivacyThe suit was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) on April 10, 2003, four days before the Amended Privacy Rule became law. See Citizens for Health, et. al. v. Leavitt, No. 03-2267 MAM. An amended complaint adding additional Plaintiffs was filed on May 5, 2003.

The 18 Plaintiffs in the suit represent over 750,000 citizens and practitioners from every state in the nation.

Why Philadelphia?The suit was filed in Philadelphia because the right to liberty was recognized there in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 as an “unalienable” right of all people. The Third Circuit Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has a strong record of protecting medical privacy rights.

Purpose Of The LawsuitThe goal is to restore the “right of consent” — the right to give permission before others can see and use your medical information.

Appeal and Oral ArgumentsThe Plaintiffs appealed; oral arguments were heard on March 9, 2005, in Philadelphia.

In the appeal, Plaintiffs pointed out, as was shown in the civil rights cases, that constitutional rights were violated when the federal government confers the authority on private entities to deprive citizens of their rights, and merely allowing private entities the discretion to deprive or not deprive citizens of their rights does not save a law from being unconstitutional. The outcome of the appeal is pending.

November 1, 2005 – Third Circuit Court Issues Ruling

On November 1, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its ruling in the above case after nearly nine months of deliberation. Despite the fact that the Court seemed quite interested and receptive to Plaintiffs’ arguments at oral argument on March 9, the Court affirmed the decision of the District Court avoiding ruling on the constitutional claims and holding that the Amended HIPAA Privacy Rule is valid under the HIPAA statute and the Administrative Procedure Act. The decision, however, is quite different in significant respects from the District Court decision, contains numerous rulings in favor of the Plaintiffs and also contains several significant errors.

(More in depth analysis of the lawsuit appeal ruling.)

December 2005

The Plaintiffs petitioned for a writ of certiorari that is, asking the Supreme Court to hear this case.

October 2, 2006 – Supreme Court declines to hear case

On October 2, 2006, the United States Supreme Court rejected the case brought by Patient Privacy Rights and nine other organizations representing 750,000 consumers.

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