Ways and Means Members Express Concerns about Federal Data Hub
Washington, D.C. – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) along with Republican Members of the Committee sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concerns about the readiness and ability of the government to protect sensitive taxpayer health and financial information that will be housed in the new Federal Data Services Hub.
The Federal Data Services Hub, which is integral in running the state and federal exchanges and scheduled to open October 1, 2013, will hold and share between agencies a variety of personal taxpayer information including health records, tax and financial information and criminal background status.
In the letter, the Members noted:
“According to your Department, the Federal Data Services Hub will share and transmit protected health information, 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.”
The letter also highlights with less than five months until the exchanges go live, this key and sensitive hub has yet to be tested. The failure to conduct and conclude testing of the system raises questions about whether all the necessary safeguards will be in place to protect the release of confidential health and taxpayer information once the exchanges begin accepting enrollees this fall.