This web site was copied prior to January 20, 2005. It is now a Federal record managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. External links, forms, and search boxes may not function within this collection. Learn more.   [hide]

Search Frequenty Asked Questions

Normal Fonts Larger Fonts Printer Version Email this page Submit Feedback Questions & Answers About CMS Return to cms.hhs.gov Home Normal Fonts Larger Fonts Email this page Submit Feedback Questions & Answers About CMS Return to cms.hhs.gov Home
Return to cms.hhs.gov Home    Return to cms.hhs.gov Home

  


  Professionals   Governments   Consumers   Public Affairs

FIG Home

Making  Requests

Processing  Requests

Contacts

Authority &  Regs

Reading Room

Annual  Reports

Request Form

Non-FOIA  Records

Freedom of Information Group

FOIA Officer: Acting Director, Melodye L. Hardy

Welcome to the FIG Home Page under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Freedom of Information Group (FIG), Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs, is the CMS central office component responsible for administering the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FIG administers FOIA to afford requesters all of the rights accorded to them by law, including the right of access to any non-privileged agency record, and to protect from inappropriate disclosure any agency record that may and should be withheld under the statute. FIG establishes implementing policies and procedures, provides authoritative advice and guidance, receives and processes FOIA requests for records. It oversees CMS component and Medicare contractor compliance to the statutes, and offers a customer service to members of the public.

Freedom of Information Act Contacts

FIG contacts including:
  1. Freedom of Information Group, Baltimore, MD
  2. CMS Regional Office Coordinators
  3. Intermediary and Carrier Directory

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and provides that, upon request from any person, a Federal agency must release any agency record unless that record falls within one of the nine statutory exemptions and three exclusions. The FOIA binds only Federal agencies, and covers only records in the possession and control of Federal agencies.

THE FREEDOM Of INFORMATION ACT AS AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 104-231.

The FOIA was amended recently by PL 104-231.

A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records

This report explains how to use the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. It reflects all changes to the laws made since 1996. This Guide is intended to serve as general introduction to the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. It offers neither a comprehensive explanation of the details of these acts, nor an analysis of case law. The Guide will, however, enable those who are unfamiliar with the laws to understand the process and to make a request. In addition, the complete text of each law is included in an appendix.

How to Make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

This section provides instructions on obtaining records within CMS' possession, custody and control through the Freedom of Information Act and several links to information and/or documents that are useful to the requester.

How to Make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request for:
  1. Requesting a list of physicians that do not submit their bills to Medicare in an electronic format.
  2. Requesting a copy of records on yourself.
  3. Requesting a copy of records on someone other than yourself.
  4. Requesting a copy of records on all other CMS/Medicare/Medicaid program matters.

1) Requesting a list of physicians that do not submit their bills to Medicare in an electronic format

You may address your request to
1) the  Freedom of Information Group in Baltimore, MD
2) any one of CMS' 10 Regional Offices or
3) to any one of CMS' contractors located though out the United States.

* Please provide the name of the specific city and state and ZIP codes (if you know the ZIP codes) that you want those records to include. * PLEASE SIGN YOUR REQUEST and provide a return address and phone number where you can be reached should we need to contact you to clarify your request. * Fees may be assessed. If the fees are under $15.00, there will be no charge. If the estimate of costs to process your request is $250 or more, staff are to notify you to confim your willingness to pay, before releasing the records to you.

2) Requesting a copy of records on yourself

If you are requesting your own record(s), we will process your request in compliance with the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Your signature on your request will be sufficient and you need not provide a consent authorization form.  

3) Requesting a copy of records on someone other than yourself

If you are requesting another person's records you will need that person's written and signed consent to disclose those records to you. Please provide your signed FOIA request letter and a copy of the signed consent, to either 1) The Freedom of Information Group in Baltimore, MD. or any unit within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that you believe may have those records, 2) any one of CMS' 10 Regional Offices 3) any one of CMS contractors that you believe may have those records. The consent authorization document must adhere to the following criteria:

Core Elements and Required Statements of a Valid Authorization

A Valid Authorization Must Contain The Following Elements:

1. The signature of the individual and date. If the authorization is signed by a personal representative of the individual, proof of his/her authority to represent must be attached to the authorization.
2. The name and other specific identification of the person(s) or class of persons authorized to make the requested disclosure.
3. A description of the information to be disclosed that identifies the information in a specific and meaningful fashion.
4. The name or other specific identification of the person(s) or class of persons to whom the requested disclosure is to be made.
5. An expiration date or an expiration event that relates to the individual or the purpose of the disclosure. (If no time frame is given, we must assume that the consent is for a one-time-only disclosure).
6. A description of the purpose of the requested disclosure. The statement “at the request of the individual” is a sufficient description of the purpose when the beneficiary initiates the authorization and does not, or elects not to, provide a statement of the purpose); and

A Valid Authorization Must Contain The Following Statements:
(or similar statements that reflect the beneficiary's understanding of the articulated principles)

1. I understand that I have the right to revoke this authorization at any time. I must do so by writing to the same person(s) or class of persons that I directed this authorization to. The revocation will not apply to information that has already been released in response to this authorization.
2. I undertand that my refusal to authorize disclosure of my personal medical information will have no effect on my enrollment, eligibility for benefits, or the amount Medicare pays for the health services I receive.
3. I understand that information disclosed pursuant to this authorization may be re-disclosed by the recipient and may no longer be protected by law.

SOURCE: Transmittal AB-03-147 dated September 26, 2003, and 45 C.F.R. § 5b.9 Prepared by: Freedom of Information Group, CMS (July 12, 2004)

4) Requesting a copy of records on any and all other CMS/Medicare/Medicaid matters
Last Modified on Thursday, September 16, 2004