27 September 2009

Baucus Bill - FBI/DoJ To Have Unfettered Access To Records?

Washington, DC - According to credible sources familiar with the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill—the “Baucus Bill”—the current legislation gives the Department of Justice and the FBI unprecedented and unfettered access to the Medicare and Medicaid records of all 80 million-plus Americans enrolled in those programs.

Unfortunately, it’s Senate Finance Committee “tradition” not to release the actual legislative language for the American people to read while the Committee amends it.

FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe commented: “Hiding the bill doesn’t fit with President Obama’s pledge to run ‘the most transparent government in history.’ This sort of secrecy and arrogance adds to the low opinion of Congress and is part of why so many came to the September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington.”

All we get to see at this point is the “Chairman’s Mark”—the general summary of what the committee intends to make law, and page 186 and 187 say:

The Chairman’s Mark would require CMS to complete development of the comprehensive “One PI [Program Integrity]” Integrated Data Repository (IDR). The “One PI” IDR would expand existing program integrity data sources and expand data sharing and data matching across Federal health care claims and payment data (including HHS, SSA, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DOD), and Justice (DOJ)). In addition to including all claims and payment data for Medicare and Medicaid, the “One PI” IDR would enable existing and new data sources to be integrated…

The “One PI” IDR would be accompanied by additional authority for HHS OIG and DOJ to use these data, including secondary data sources, to identify and investigate potential fraud and abuse.

Kibbe continued: “Persecuting waste, fraud, and abuse is very important but so are the checks and balances within the government that currently protect our privacy. These paragraphs—and particularly the line ‘additional authority…to use these data’ suggest the Baucus bill will remove these checks.

Until they reveal their legislation, we are left to ask:

1. Does this mean the FBI—part of the DOJ—will have open access to all Medicare and Medicaid information?

2. Who will make sure the data will not be used for political fishing expeditions?

3. Do all who join a Medicare-like 'public option' also become part of an open-access database?

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