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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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