Heritage warns of PPACA-related privacy leaks

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Are the state insurance exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act designed to insure millions of uninsured Americans, or to leak millions of bits of personal data out into the world?

The Heritage Foundation believes the answer is the latter. Heritage has been sounding the alarm about the PPACA for some time, and has become a major advocate of defunding the entire reform act.

Gathering examples of security concerns from a range of sources, Heritage policy analyst Chris Jacobs says the Obama administration isn’t necessarily putting private information at risk intentionally. But, through a series of blunders as the White House races to launch the exchanges on Oct. 1, personal data is nonetheless destined to become public, he said.

“In its mad rush to implement its unworkable law, the Obama administration has taken a slapdash and shoddy approach to Americans’ personal security,” Jacobs writes. “Given these stakes, the choice for Congress could not be clearer: Congress should preserve Americans’ privacy by refusing to spend another dime implementing Obamacare.”

Here’s some of the evidence for data security concerns that Jacobs cites:
  • In August, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general released a report highlighting many missed deadlines with respect to the security measures surrounding the Obamacare data hub. The official certification that the data hub is secure is not scheduled to occur until Sept. 30 — one day before the exchanges are scheduled to open for business.

  • Michael Astrue, a former general counsel of HHS, offered security-related objections while serving as the commissioner of Social Security through February 2013. He has called the administration’s exchange portal “an overly simplistic system without adequate privacy safeguards.”

  • HHS recently announced it was lowering by one-third — from 30 hours to 20 — the minimum training time for navigators. As a result, individuals can be certified as navigators with fewer than three full days’ training — and few security checks.

  • Navigators will not be required to undergo background checks, and the process for filing complaints about unscrupulous navigators remains unclear at best. Even California’s insurance commissioner — a Democrat and strong supporter of Obamacare — raised concerns that navigators would put consumers at risk for scams: “We can have a real disaster on our hands.”
The reform act, Jacobs opines, is just one more power grab by big government to whack away at personal freedoms.

“Federal agencies have already encountered difficulties preserving the integrity of Americans’ sensitive information. Earlier this year, a medical provider in California sued the IRS for improperly seizing 60 million records of 10 million Americans. Yet under Obamacare, the IRS and other federal agencies will hold more new powers and have access to even more of Americans’ personal health and financial information,” he wrote.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com