We's apologize for the multitude of ObamaCare posts recently if not for the fact that grave concerns regarding personal liberty, personal privacy, government overreach and government un-accountability all residing in various forms and degrees in the IRS, Treasury Department and NSA scandals are all rolled up in the entity of the new federal healthcare law. So, no, we don't apologize.
The Affordable Care Act allows for states that do not wish to take on the bureaucratic nightmare of standing up and maintaining the exchanges through which people may shop for and purchase federally-approved health care plans to be left to the federal government. Currently, 34 states have possessed the wisdom to leave the running of this ongoing trainwreck to the feds.
California is one such state, however, that has decided to take on this task via the state exchange Covered California and California being the largest state in the union is being watched very carefully with respect to how this is rolled out with an October 1st deadline looming.
One problem being experienced already and which we blogged about last week is that there is no internal mechanism for the vetting of the thousands of employees ("navigators") that will be staffing the exchange in order to assist people in signing up for healthcare insurance. No background checks for people who will have unprecedented access to your tax, DMV and health records. No background checks for people who may have served time for identity theft and whom will have access to which you had assumed was your secure information. What could possibly go wrong?
And at the federal level, things are also working out about how you would expect.
Over the weekend, a USA Today story spelled out the massive information data hub that the feds are currently setting up and will be maintaining for the ostensible purpose of being able to execute ObamaCare. The article calls this data hub the most massive gathering of personal information in the history of the republic, something that would make the NSA blush from inadequacy. Information about you and your family will be brought in from the Treasury Department, IRS, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice as well as your Social Security number and this will all be coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
And just like in California, the federal government has no means nor do they have, currently, any intentions of vetting the employees who will have access to this information.
From the National Review Online:
This spring, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawyers were also told by HHS that, despite the fact that navigators will have access to sensitive data such as Social Security numbers and tax returns, there will be no criminal background checks required for them. Indeed, they won't even have to have high-school diplomas. Both U.S. Census Bureau and IRS employees must meet those minimum standards, if only because no one wants someone who has been convicted of identity theft getting near Americans' personal records. But HHS is unconcerned. It points out that navigators will have to take a 20-30 hour online course about how the 1,200-page law works, which, given its demonstrated complexity, is like giving someone a first-aid course and then making him a med-school professor. "I want to assure you and all Americans that, when they fill out their [health-insurance] marketplace applications, they can trust the information they're providing is protected," said Marilyn T avenner, head of HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at a congressional hearing last week. In the age of Wikileaks and IRS abuses, somehow that isn't very comforting.
As if you needed to be reminded, the trust us folks at HHS are part of the same sprawling federal apparatus that targeted and harassed groups seeking non-profit status and who shared sensitive financial information with liberal advocacy groups. And these were the folks who had background checks performed on them before working for the IRS.
To say that the potential for abuse and criminal misconduct as practiced by the IRS is very possible, would be an understatement of the highest order.
The blueprint has been set for the California state exchange and the state exchanges set up by the federal government to be un-accountable rogue agencies where there is zero recourse of action if you feel your private information has been compromised or if you feel you are being wrongly treated.
This is precisely what happens when legislation of a massive and sprawling federal entitlement program consists not of thoughtful debate and exchange of ideas as to both the broad outline of that legislation but also some of the finer details that would ensure we would not have bad actors with access to the information that they will. Rather, what we wound up with was legislation via backroom vote-buying deals, bribes and kickbacks just so that we could pass something in order to find out later what's in it and boy are we ever.