What with all the controversy over Justice Department snooping in reporters’ phone conversations and the National Security Agency tracking cell phone and Internet use of private citizens one would think that there would be an even louder uproar over the collection of personal information mandated by the Affordable Health Care Act. The silence is not only deafening, it is depressing.
Congressional hearings on IRS harassment of selected individuals, groups and business owners revealed what happens when politics trumps the rule of law. Those who expressed opinions critical of the Obama administration found themselves at the mercy of legions of unelected bureaucrats from an alphabet soup of agencies apparently working in concert with the IRS.
Now the already suspect IRS is preparing to take charge of health care. It is not a confidence inspiring thought especially since Lois Lerner, the IRS Director complicit in the targeting of conservative groups, will be in charge of the enforcement division the Affordable Health Care Act.
According to a Treasury Department audit, the expansion of IRS power under ACA is daunting.
“The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) represents the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years and presents a major challenge to the Internal Revenue Service.”
Based on IRS additional fund requests House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) calculated that the IRS would hire an additional 16,500 agents.
When ACA goes into effect in 2014 all Americans who file tax returns will have to fill out an additional form disclosing personal identifying health information. This is to prove to the IRS that the filer has “qualifying” health coverage. “Qualifying” means that what is covered complies with the list approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“It’s all part of a new Obama Care rule that was issued late on Friday, June 14, just as offices were closing for the weekend break. The new rule requires state, federal and local agencies, as well as health insurers, to swap protected personal health information about anybody seeking affordable health insurance on an exchange that will be enforced by the IRS.” – emaxhealth.com
To collect this data, the IRS will be assisted by the new Federal Data Services Hub which will officiate over the collection and shared access of information between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the several states, the IRS and the janitor (just kidding about the latter). However, if Americans ever awake from their torpor, they may not see any humor in another huge digital warehouse of their personal information.
“He has elected a multitude of new Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.”
And it doesn’t end there. An article (A Toxic Combination) in the June 3rd issue of the Weekly Standard reveals that Americans, henceforth, will be required to…
“update the IRS regularly on what’s going on in their lives. Marriages, divorces job changes, moves, pay increases, even changes in number of hours worked– these are all things on which the IRS will expect to be well informed.”
Last August, in testimony before Congress, IRS official Nina Olson explained the changes that ACA will bring to citizens’ responsibilities to the IRS. Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg asked Olson:
“Do you believe that most Americans are going to update the IRS or state exchanges when they change jobs, get married, move states, whatever?”
Olson’s reply echoes the arrogance demonstrated by other administration officials appointed by the president.
“I think it’s going to be a very great learning curve. If Americans don’t keep the IRS up to date on their financial status, they might incur penalties, which the IRS will collect by withholding income tax refunds. I think it will be a surprise to taxpayers if they don’t update their information.”
If that doesn’t penetrate the somnolent population perhaps the reach and insularity of the ACA Independent Payment Advisory Board will. The board of political appointees is tasked with reducing health care costs. In addition to being able to cut Medicare payments it has…
“the power to regulate all health care in the U.S., including private health care and private health insurance, so long as such action is deemed to “help reduce the growth rate [of national health expenditures] while maintaining or enhancing [Medicare] beneficiary access to quality care.” – Forbes
The ACA also stipulates that there …
“shall be no administrative or judicial review” of the board’s decisions. Its members will be nearly untouchable, too. They will be presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed, but after that they can only be fired for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.” WSJ
Becky Gerritson, president of one of the groups harassed by the IRS, concluded her testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee by observing:
“Many of the agents and agencies of the federal government do not understand that they are servants of the people. They think they are our masters. And they are mistaken.”
But maybe they aren’t.