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[ISN] Hacker Magnet or Sophisticated Tool? Obamacare's Database Debated


By Charles S. Clark
July 17, 2013

The centralized data hub that will link agency records on people who sign up for Obamacare is either solidly on schedule and impenetrable to hackers, or it is floundering and in danger of swelling into "the biggest data system of personal information in the history of the U.S."

Both views were displayed Wednesday at a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that roped in issues from cybersecurity to government mismanagement to the fate of the Affordable Care Act to the scandal over political targeting of taxpayer groups by parts of the Internal Revenue Service.

Taken together, representatives from the Health and Human Services Department, the IRS and auditing agencies appeared confident that the Obama administration can meet the health care law’s Oct. 1 deadline for opening state insurance exchanges with sufficient safeguards on personal information to protect Americans’ privacy.

The Federal Data Services Hub, a $394 million contractor operation run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Columbia, Md., is a tool that will allow citizens applying for the new health insurance plans to enter their income and personal identification online and get a determination of eligibility for tax credits, in many cases within seconds. The hub is designed to link databases at HHS and IRS with the Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments, the Social Security Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the Peace Corps.

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