Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are questioning how well taxpayers' personal and health information will be protected in the Federal Data Services Hub that will power health insurance exchanges or marketplaces beginning later this year.
In a June 28 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the lawmakers cited a pair of recent Government Accountability Act reports (see previous story) that questioned whether the federally facilitated exchanges (FFEs) and state exchanges would be functioning by the Oct. 1 deadline, and raised concerns about the lack of testing of the data services hub where consumer information will be stored for access.
“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,” according to a news release from the House Ways and Means Committee leadership.
The data hub is expected to store and transmit to exchanges broad categories of personal data, including protected health information (as defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and financial information.
“Without an operable Federal Data Services Hub, exchanges will be unable to access the real-time information necessary to verify consumer exchange application information,” the lawmakers wrote. In addition, “the Federal Data Services Hub raises many serious privacy concerns.”
The letter asked that HHS provide an update on the status of the Federal Data Services Hub no later than July 12.
The letter is available at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hhs_data_hub.pdf.
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