Black & Fellow Ways & Means Committee Members Send Letter to HHS Sec. Sebelius Demanding Answers on Obamacare Data Hub

Jun 28, 2013 Issues: Health

Washington, DC – U.S. Congressman Diane Black (R-TN), together with House Ways and Means Committee Members, including Chairman David Camp (R-MI), Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Lynn Jenkins (R-OK), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Todd Young (R-IN) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) sent a letter today to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding answers and accountability on Obamacare’s Federal Data Services Hub, the largest database of Americans’ personal information ever attempted by the U.S. government. According to HHS, Obamacare’s Data Hub will share and transmit Personal Health Records, tax and financial information, criminal background and immigration status and various other personal information between agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), HHS, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and the Social Security Administration, as well as state governments and state and federal exchanges. In the letter to Secretary Sebelius, Ways and Means members asked the Obama administration to come before the Committee prior to July 12th to conduct a demonstration of the Obamacare Data Hub.

 “As the largest database of personal, sensitive information ever attempted by the U.S. government, the Obamacare Data Hub raises many serious concerns and questions regarding the security and privacy of the American people. The Obama administration has a responsibility to demonstrate to Congress and the public how and what it is doing to ensure that its unprecedented expansion of government does not continue to undermine Americans’ basic freedoms,” said Congressman Black.

In light of the recent IRS targeting scandal and the unprecedented new power afforded to government bureaucrats through Obamacare, Black introduced H.R. 2022, Stopping Government Abuse of Taxpayer Information Act, a bill that would protect Americans from future targeting and potential abuses of taxpayer information, specifically by addressing the heightened risks of Obamacare’s Federal Data Services Hub. H.R. 2022 requires that all government employees found guilty of targeting taxpayers because of their beliefs are fired and would halt Obamacare implementation until all government agencies with access to Obamacare’s Federal Data Services Hub present to Congress under penalty of perjury certification that the American people’s personal information has not and will not be used for targeting any individual or group based on their beliefs. For more information on H.R. 2022, click here.

June 28, 2013

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released two reports, “Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges,” and “Status of Federal and State Efforts to Establish Health Insurance Exchanges for Small Businesses,” which both raise concerns about whether exchanges will be functioning in all states by October 1, 2013.  This comes despite your Department’s spending nearly $400 million on private contractors for exchange infrastructure.

As you know, the GAO found that your Department has missed several key deadlines for setting up the insurance exchanges and questions the Administration’s ability to “assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges.”  In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Federal Data Services Hub on which both state and federal exchanges will rely has not been tested, and it remains unclear whether it will be operable and able to protect sensitive health and taxpayer information.

According to your Department, the Federal Data Services Hub will share and transmit personal health records, tax and financial information, criminal background and immigration status, and various other personal information between agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, HHS, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Defense, and the Social Security Administration, state governments, as well as state and federal exchanges. Without an operable Federal Data Services Hub, exchanges will be unable to access the real-time information necessary to verify consumer exchange application information. And more, the Federal Data Services Hub raises many serious privacy concerns.

Given the preceding concerns, by no later than July 12, we ask that your Department provide our Committee a briefing on the current status of the Federal Data Services Hub and how it will protect sensitive information.  Please contact staff at:  (202) 225-3625 if you have questions.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.