What is FOIA?
Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any records requested under the FOIA unless the release of records falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement. As Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have all recognized, the FOIA is a vital part of our democracy.
What is the Presumption of Openness and Who Issues Guidance to Agencies on the FOIA?
The FOIA provides that when processing requests, agencies should withhold records only if they reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption, or if disclosure is prohibited by law. Agencies should also consider whether partial disclosure of records is possible whenever they determine that full disclosure is not possible and they should take reasonable steps to segregate and release nonexempt records. The Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice is responsible for issuing government-wide guidance on the FOIA as part of its responsibilities to encourage all agencies to fully comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FOIA.
How to File a CMS FOIA and/or FOIA/Privacy Act Request
- File your FOIA request for CMS agency records by selecting one of the following methods in accordance with FOIA regulations:
- Submit your request via the CMS FOIA.gov portal or
- E-mail your request to FOIA_Request@cms.hhs.gov or
- Fax your request to 443-380-7260
- File your FOIA/Privacy Act request for Medicare beneficiary claim records by selecting one of the following methods in accordance with FOIA/Privacy regulations:
- E-mail your Medicare beneficiary claims records request to OPOLEFOIA@cms.hhs.gov or
- Fax your request to 443-380-8871
- Please be sure to include the required Medicare HIPAA authorization form and any other supporting documents required for third party requests.
- Coming Soon: The Medicare Beneficiary Claims Portal – A new way to submit FOIA/Privacy requests directly to CMS!
CMS will also accept requests via U.S. Postal Service. Address your request to:
CMS FOIA Officer
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard, Mailstop N2-20-16
Baltimore, MD 21244
How Will CMS Process Your FOIA Request?
When CMS receives your FOIA request it is entered into CMS’ automated tracking system and assigned a control number. A FOIA analyst will review your request to understand the types(s) of records you wish to obtain and assign your request to the appropriate CMS program office(s) to search for responsive records. You will receive an acknowledgement letter with a control number and corresponding PIN number with instructions for checking the status of your request.
Additional CMS FOIA Resources
Frequently Requested Information