Obamacare Creates a Privacy Nightmare

Commentary from Twila Brase, President CCHF                           


December 12, 2012


Obamacare creates a privacy nightmare. Have you heard of the "HUB"? Last week in the USA Today, two authors laid out the national database being built by the Obama administration as part of Obama's federal exchange system. This is the "Federal Data Services Hub " (HUB).

These authors note:

By mid-December, the federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic. If you think identity theft is a problem now, wait until Uncle Sam serves up critical information on 300 million American citizens on a platter. 
The authors shot down the misleading idea of the Exchange being like "Travelocity":
If the plan were simply a Travelocity-style portal for choosing different insurance products across state lines, we would support it..[but]..In order to determine eligibility for health insurance subsidies, the new exchange has to bring together information about you and your family from the Treasury Department and IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, as well as your Social Security number -- all coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The draft Data Services Hub Statement of Work (July 2011) says the HUB "will act as a single interface point for Exchanges to all federal agency partners..." It must be implemented by September 1st, 2013 and must include "Data models for maintaining individual data, transaction audit data, federal agency partner data, etc." The feds say the HUB will be able to verify Social Security Numbers, citizenship, imprisonment, income information, tax credit eligibility and eligibility for public subsidies...in real time. 
Why so hush-hush? The USA Today authors criticize the administration for saying little about, "...a central database linking critical state and federal data on every U.S. citizen for real-time access." Robert Laszewski, in his blog quips:
The former CIA director couldn't get away with an affair in this town but the Obama administration has a complete lid on just where they are on health  insurance exchanges and haven't shown any willingness to want to talk about their progress toward launching on time—except to tell us all not to worry.
QSSI, the company awarded $145M to build and operate the HUB through 2017, is testing it with Massachusetts and Maryland. Furthermore, an agency FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) shows how they are attempting to force the HUB on states, regardless of whether states expand Medicaid under Obamacare: 
Consistent with the regulations issued on March 23, 2012, state Medicaid and CHIP programs must rely on the HUB for certain information; this provision applies without regard to whether a state has adopted the Medicaid expansion for low-income adults. (FAQ, p. 4)
How much data? The ACA requires government-issued "individualized risk scores." One contractor building an exchange has access to: private data, non-public data, confidential data, medical data, federal tax information, welfare data, protected health information, chemical health records (drug and alcohol use), electronic health records, any "record" as defined by the Privacy Act of 1974, and "other data."
Will the HUB stop with health care? It's called the federal data services hub, not the federal HEALTH data services hub. The HUB's intrusions could expand into transportation, banking, education, commerce, private purchase tracking, and much more. 
States must refuse to connect. Legislators should consider outlawing the required online information technology (IT) connections and HUB data-sharing in their state. They should test the feds. Are they willing to tell a state it cannot participate in Medicaid if the state refuses to link to the intrusive, all-knowing "HUB." States have recently rediscovered their power. They've refused Obama's exchanges. Here's another reason to use that power.
Tomorrow, at 10:00 a.m. EST, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on Exchanges and Medicaid expansion to discuss member's many unanswered questions. There is something ominous about lawmakers asking this announced list of questions to regulators. It makes you wonder who is writing the law and running the show?  (For live-streaming, click on Webcasts HERE)
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