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Public Comments Now Available for Viewing on HHS “Conscience” Proposal

September 12, 2008

I’ve updated the sticky post with link to the comment site with this text, but wanted to share this update on the HHS proposed rule on “physician conscience” with folks getting the blog through feed readers. There are a ton more posts for background here.

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.

If you would like to comment, see the sticky post at the top of the blog for the link.

*Update: Their not-so-helpful response, in its entirety: “Please use procedures in the Federal Register to ask questions about the conscious regulations.”
Uh, the Federal Register just says, “FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Destro, (202) 401-2305, Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 728E, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20201.” That’s who I contacted (and who responded), just via email. Thanks for the thorough and useful explanation!😐

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