Obamacare Privacy Worries Disclosed By State Attorneys General

Robert Jonathan

Obamacare privacy protections -- or lack thereof -- are a serious issue for 13 state attorneys general who believe that personal health information is at risk.

They have voiced grave concerns about possible fraud associated with the new healthcare exchanges that are supposedly going to be up and running by October 1.

As we reported previously, California's insurance commissioner described his state healthcare exchange as a potential "real disaster" in terms of identity theft and other related crimes.

The US Health and Human Services Department apparently won't require criminal background or fingerprint checks and has cut back on training requirements for the so-called navigators who help consumers sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage. With that in mind, the AGs are calling upon the federal government to implement far more stringent privacy safeguards.

Writing to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on behalf of his colleagues, W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey explained in part that "It is not enough to simply adopt vague policies against fraud. There are significant holes in the rules HHS has implemented already. We are very concerned about the risk of identity theft if those holes aren't addressed immediately or if the implementation of health care exchanges isn't delayed to allow for better regulations, more training for consumer outreach programs and better fraud prevention."

Continued Morrisey: "HHS needs on-the-ground plans to secure consumer information, to follow-up on complaints, and to work with law enforcement officials to prosecute bad counselors. Without more protections, this is a privacy disaster waiting to happen."

About the potential for Obamacare identity theft, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said on Friday evening on FNC that "Now, these navigators will have our consumers throughout the country's most personal and private information: tax return information, Social Security information. And our biggest fear, of course, is identity theft." She added ominously that requirements for census takers and other jobs are much tougher than that for Obamacare navigators.

Added Bondi: "What if they've been convicted of committing identity theft or grand theft before? They could potentially still become a navigator... we need to know who is monitoring the navigators, who is going to police the navigators... this is an issue about protecting our consumers and their identity from unscrupulous people, and we know they're out there all over our country."

Legal liability for identity theft is also an concern that Bondi raised.

Serious data integrity questions have also been raised about security measures for the Obamacare federal data hub.

With regard to Obamacare generally, Sen. Rand Paul -- a medical doctor -- said yesterday that "It's not going to be good for the American public, I think insurance premiums will rise. I think the people they want to help, precisely the working class and the poor who don't have insurance, still don't have insurance and they're going to have a penalty... [the GOP] should use the leverage of controlling one-third of the government... to at the very least make this law less bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from this law... 85 percent of us had health insurance; we should have tried to fix the system for the 15 percent who didn't instead of destroying it for everybody in the country who actually had good health insurance. Our main concern was the price rising; the president did nothing about prices rising -- he's actually made insurance more expensive because of its mandates and making the insurance cover more items."

NBC reported last week that "Employers around the country, from fast-food franchises to colleges, have told NBC News that they will be cutting workers' hours below 30 a week because they can't afford to offer the health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare... Many businesses are reluctant to talk about cutting hours for fear the public will view them as stingy or uncaring about their workers. But [an owner of 21 Subway restaurants] said that many small businesses have very small profit margins and that while he already provides health insurance to senior employees, offering health insurance to many more workers would require him to pass a significant price increase on to his customers."

Are you confident that personal medical records privacy will be adequately protected and secured under Obamacare?