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Last Modified: 9/13/2020 Location: FL Business: Part B

Freedom of Information Act requests

FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, and enacted in 1966, provides that, upon request from any person, a federal agency or federal contractor must release any 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.

How to make a FOIA request

Any individual may submit a FOIA request to First Coast by mail, fax, or in person. We will not accept telephone requests. All requests must include an original signature; stamps are not acceptable.
The following information is required:
Name and title
Organization’s Name
Full Mailing Address
Telephone Number and if possible an alternate number
Documents Requested
Original signature
A request can be written on personal or business letterhead or on plain bond paper. Mark both the envelope and its contents: "Freedom of Information Act Request." Do not include a return envelope or a check or any type of payment with your initial request. If processing fees apply, an invoice will be issued to you.
Within your request, identify the record(s) that you want. If you do not know the exact title of the record(s), you should provide a reasonable description of the record. Please add as many details about the record as possible. Examples include author, date, subject matter and location, etc. Not having a good description could delay our response or prevent us from finding the records. We may ask you to clarify your request if we need more information to find the record(s).
Do not request documents believed to be housed in a library or research facility. Do not request documents obtainable from the Government Printing Office, National Technical Information Service, or those created for publication.

FOIA contact information

Send your request to the following address or fax number:
JN FOIA requests
P.O. Box 3425
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-1825
Email: FOIA@fcso.com 
Fax number: 904-361-0870

FOIA Fees

FOIA authorizes us to assess search fees, review fees and photocopying fees.
Fee Categories
For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requesters be placed in one of the following three fee categories:
Commercial use requesters;
costs of search, review and duplication
Educational and scientific institutions and news media, and
cost of duplication only, first 100 pages are free of charge
All others
costs of search and duplication, first two hours of search and the first 100 pages of duplications are free of charge
It is assumed you are willing to pay the fees we charge for processing your request. In your letter of request, you may specify the fee category in which you feel your request falls. You also may state the maximum amount of fees that you are willing to pay, or include a request for a fee waiver.
Fee Waivers
FOIA permits agencies to waive fees if disclosure of the record(s) is in the public interest because it is:
Likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and,
Not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester
If you believe that your request meets both of the above tests, you can request a waiver or reduction of fees when you make your FOIA request. You must fully document and justify your waiver request by written explanation.
Requests “Certifying that records are true copies” will be forwarded to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). CMS will complete the certification of the records and a fee of $10 per certification will be charged.
If you have a dollar limit on how much you are at liberty to pay, please include that limit in your request. You will be contacted if the estimate exceeds your limit.
If you set no limit and the cost to search, copy and/or review the records exceeds $250, you will be contacted before proceeding.

How we process your request

All efforts are made to process your request within 20 working days from the date First Coast receives the FOIA request. Due to a variety of circumstances, some requests may take longer due to volume of records requested and the number of pending requests. FOIA requests are processed on a "first in/first out" basis.
Expedited Process
Expedited processing is initiated when the FOIA requester asks for it and if a compelling need for disclosure is evident. Compelling need is evidenced by the fact that the records are required due to:
An imminent threat to life or physical safety,
The media demonstrates an urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged government activity; and/or,
The requested records are needed to meet a deadline in litigation or a deadline imposed by a governmental agency for commenting on a proposed regulation
If you think that we should expedite your request, please explain your reasons fully in your FOIA request.
Denials and appeals
If we decide to withhold a record from you, in whole or in part, we will provide written notification to you of this decision. We will explain our reason(s) for withholding the record/information and describe how you may file an appeal. Any administrative appeal decision that upholds a denial will inform you of the basis for the denial and of your right to judicial review in federal courts.

Requesting records on someone other than yourself

If you are requesting your own record(s), we will process your request in compliance with the Privacy Act and FOIA. If you are requesting another person's records, you need the person's written consent to disclose them to you. In these cases, send your request, with the signed consent, to the above address. The consent must adhere to the criteria below.
Core elements and required statements of a valid authorization
Valid authorization must contain the following elements:
Signature of the individual and date. Authorizations signed by a personal representative of the individual, must include proof of his/her authority to represent that individual.
The name and other specific identification of the person(s) or class of persons authorized to make the requested disclosure.
A description of the information to be disclosed that identifies the information in a specific and meaningful fashion.
The name or other specific identification of the person(s) or class of persons to whom the requested disclosure is to be made.
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).
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
Valid authorization must contain the following elements (or similar statements that reflect the beneficiary's understanding of the articulated principles):
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 to whom I directed this authorization. The revocation will not apply to information already released.
I understand 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.
I understand that information disclosed pursuant to this authorization may be disclosed by the recipient and no longer protected by law.
For more information regarding FOIA, please refer to the following:
First Coast Service Options (First Coast) strives to ensure that the information available on our provider website is accurate, detailed, and current. Therefore, this is a dynamic site and its content changes daily. It is best to access the site to ensure you have the most current information rather than printing articles or forms that may become obsolete without notice.