The picture she has sketched is pretty frightening — that the “most personal, sensitive, intimate, private health-care information is in the hands of the IRS” via a vast database....All right then... "official descriptions"... it's a "hub," not a database... IRS only in a "supporting role."
Since the health care mandate is effectively a tax — most Americans will either need to have health insurance or pay a penalty — the IRS was given an important role in administering various tax credits and penalties that are part of the law....
[T]he official descriptions of the “Data Services Hub” show that it is not what would generally be considered “a database.” It will not actually store information, but will be used so that health exchanges, which are being creating [sic] for the purchase of health insurance, can ask questions about application information. The Hub will be built by the Department of Health and Human Services, with the IRS in a supporting role.
Kessler quotes congressional testimony from a "nonpartisan and independent" tax expert named Nina Olson who said this wasn't "an unprecedented expansion of IRS powers but rather an unprecedented expansion of IRS work." She said it was "my understanding... that we would get the information from insurers whether or not that taxpayer was covered, and essentially nothing else — the amount of the premium paid — and that would be it. Nothing about their state of health or anything like that."
“The Affordable Care Act maintains strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information,” said Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Service. “The IRS will not have access to personal health information. Application for financial assistance will be part of applying for coverage on the Marketplace and will take place in near real time."It's not a great time for feeling reassured by assertions about "strict... controls" within the IRS. Obviously, we have reason to be skeptical and to fear abuse of power. With health care so intricately interwoven with the tax authority, we have to worry. That doesn't justify politicians like Bachmann misstating the facts, however.
[Bachmann spokesman Dan Kotman] also pointed to a recent lawsuit, described in a news report as “a lurid but vague class action accuses corrupt and abusive IRS agents of stealing 10 million people’s medical records without a warrant — including ‘intimate medical records of every state judge in California.’” The claims are interesting, but they are simply unproven allegations at this point. It is not clear what the allegations have to do with the health care law.We need to keep the facts straight. There are things to fear, and that creates political opportunities to aggravate fear in all sorts of screwy ways. Those who oppose "big government" might think they can get away with a lot more inaccuracy. Just foment mistrust, and you'll win people to your side. Those who promote big government desperately need our trust and must allay our fears... or maybe they think all they need to do is make us see Bachmann and her ilk as liars and nutcases.