August 28, 2009

DECLAN MCCULLAGH: Healthcare bill taps IRS information.

Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and “other information as is prescribed by” regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for “affordability credits.”

Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details — there’s no specified limit on what’s available or unavailable — to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify “affordability credits.”

Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a “low-income prescription drug subsidy” but has not applied for it.

Read the whole thing. Plus this: “I do wonder where the usual suspects like the Electronic Privacy Information Center are. Presumably inserting limits on information that can be disclosed — and adding strict penalties on misuse of the information kept on file about hundreds of millions of Americans — is at least as important as fretting about Facebook’s privacy policy in Canada.” But the politics are different.

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