Sad news: "The public is no longer permitted to look at the birth and death indexes at the New York City Department of Health."
The following was written by Jan Meisels Allen who has given permission to distribute it elsewhere:
In speaking with the Commissioner's office, I was advised that anyone may pay $15 to have the staff research a specific name for three years. More years requires additional payment. As genealogists, we would like to retain the opportunity to review the indices ourselves.
There is nothing, as of this posting, reflecting the change posted on the DOHMH website. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/home/home.shtml) .
The DOHMH has birth indices/records after 1909 and death indices/records after 1948. (The New York City Municipal Archives has birth indexes prior to 1910 and death indexes prior to 1949 http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/vitalrecords/home.shtml.)
In 2008, the DOHMH adopted a resolution to repeal and reenact Article 3 of the New York City Health Code (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/notice/article-3-adoption-June-2008.pdf or http://tinyurl.com/df6937. Section 3.25 (page 4) states the amendment is for the protection of the privacy of persons who are subjects of the information while providing for the conditions under which information may be disclosed.
Also, Section 3.27, which permitted access to the printed indices of vital statistics records, has been repealed in its entirety. This was the section that permitted anyone to review the indices available at the DOHMH. The stated rationale for repeal is due to concerns over abuse in access which can lead to identity theft and security risks. The resolution states while this is a Department determination, they are taking into consideration the federal regulations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is not the usual interpretation of HIPAA, which is the standard for protecting the privacy of patient medical records and other health information provided to health care providers.
Jan Meisels Allen
Director, International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and Chairperson, Public Records Access Monitoring Committee