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URL Changed for Submitting Comments on Proposed HHS “Conscience” Rule

September 3, 2008

Making this a sticky post until the commenting period is over on Sep 25, 2008, now that WordPress has the feature! Scroll down for newer posts below, or expand this one for links to comment on the HHS physician conscience proposal.

Thanks to alert reader Hilary, I learned that the URL I previously posted for submitting public comments on HHS’s proposed “conscience” rule is broken. I seriously do not know what is up with that, for lack of a more eloquent response. You may recall that when HHS Secretary Leavitt posted his initial blog post on the topic, that link kept changing as well.

Now, the URL has changed so anyone who has been referred to Regulations.gov to leave a comment is getting an error message. The docket number of the proposed rule has changed as well, from HHS_FRDOC_0001-0031 to HHS-OS-2008-0011. The docket type is also now marked as nonrulemaking even though the document is a proposed rule.

So, if you want to comment through Regulations.gov, you now need to go here. Please pass along to those who are sharing the link and encouraging comment.

Now, I wonder when those existing public comments will actually be available for public viewing….

Update, 9/12/08: Yesterday, I was getting a little aggravated about not finding any public comments posted on Regulations.gov (commenting has been open since 8/26), and was also curious about the docket number change (and whether comments on the initial docket would carry over) and the designation as “nonrulemaking” for a proposed rule, so I got in touch with the Regulations.gov folks. I received this prompt and helpful explanation (emphasis added):

The agency has not yet posted any of the comments submitted. When documents are published in the Federal Register, they are placed first in a temporary docket (HHS_FRDOC_0001) on Regulations.gov. The agency then creates a permanent docket and moves the document to it. Any comments submitted while it has the temp docket ID go with the document to the permanent docket. The agency selects whether the docket is considered “rulemaking” or “nonrulemaking.” See the section of the proposed rule labeled “For further information contact:” for an agency employee who can provide information about this docket.

So, following their advice, I contacted an agency employee. I have not received a response. However, sometime yesterday, >1,100 public comments on the HHS docket were posted (you’ll see they’re all dated 9/11/08). You can read them here.

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