|ObamaCare’s “Data Hub” Should be Its Death Knell|
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, July 25 2013
With a string of controversial policy decisions, ObamaCare’s Federal Data Hub is shaping up to be the new poster child for government waste, fraud and abuse.
The waste is apparent to anyone familiar with the current state of health technology. Already there are at least 100 companies that operate private health insurance exchanges, according to John C. Goodman, a health expert at the National Center for Data Analysis.
But rather than write the law in such a way to make ObamaCare subsidies easily compatible with these preexisting systems, the drafters left open the possibility for an added layer of bureaucracy to spring up.
True to form, no state-operated exchange has allowed a privately owned exchange to act as a point of entry for ObamaCare users. Instead, states are spending huge sums essentially to duplicate a service already available. California alone has spent $900 million.
Fraud in the form of identity theft is also a huge concern thanks to a policy fiat issued by the Health and Human Services department. The Federal Data Hub is an integral part of making sure that the people applying for ObamaCare subsidies actually qualify for them.
In theory, the Hub is supposed to be a kind of super-server, combining information currently housed in various state agencies and the IRS into a single system. A sister database to the Hub will house other sensitive information “such as income, Social Security numbers, email addresses, and even pregnancy status of ObamaCare users,” according to reporting by Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner.
But because the health and financial information to be accessed is so sensitive, putting it all into two easily accessible search engines will make them a magnet for hackers and identity thieves.
Confidence in the government’s ability to protect the private information of millions of Americans diminishes even more when one considers that the Hub has not even been tested for security weaknesses. The main reason for the delay: The Hub isn’t finished yet.
With just over two months until citizens can begin purchasing insurance on ObamaCare exchanges on October 1, the Obama administration’s response to critics’ security concerns is – trust us.
But why would we? The stakes regarding sensitive personal information are immense, and early decisions provide zero basis for trust.
In its rush to sign up as many people as possible on the exchanges, the Obama administration announced that it would abuse basic hiring standards by lowering the qualification threshold for those wanting to become so-called “patient navigators.”
Navigators are people who assist others in applying for ObamaCare subsidies.
Instead of requiring the same level of credentialing that is required to work at the IRS and Census Bureau – at least a high school diploma and a criminal background check – the Obama Health and Human Services department is waiving those and will now allow anyone who completes a 20-30 hour online training seminar to get access to an applicant’s personal information. What’s more, navigators will be paid $20-48 an hour by the federal government for their work.
And don’t think that community organizers of every stripe aren’t chomping at the bit to navigate people into a government subsidy. Guidelines released by HHS indicate that some of the groups already lining up to get certified “include Planned Parenthood, senior-citizen advocacy organizations, and churches,” John Fund wrote recently in National Review.
Moreover, if other states follow California’s lead, ObamaCare exchanges could become a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act, allowing them to combine voter registration with every transaction they have with a health insurance buyer. All financed, of course, with money neither the State of California nor the federal government has.
This parade of horribles occurs only if the Hub and its sister database operate as intended. What’s more likely in the near term is a raft of gaffes, glitches and security breakdowns that make Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and the IRS scandal seem like the good old days.
With the next debt-ceiling showdown looming in October, Republicans in Congress have one more opportunity to defund ObamaCare before it lurches to life. If they don’t, we’ll all pay dearly.
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