Monday, December 30, 2013


HealthCare IT News reports  The Internal Revenue Service could now be facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.

According to a report by, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data. 

"No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. IT personnel at the scene, a HIPAA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records," the complaint continued.

If the allegations are true, the IRS is in trouble,” wrote Jim Pyles, Washington-based healthcare privacy lawyer, in a statement to Healthcare IT News. “By both constitutional law and HIPAA, then I think we have a problem.”

The Department of Health and Human Services recently stated that the ACA does not grant the IRS open access to Americans' medical records with no cause. "The Affordable Care Act maintains strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information. The IRS will not have access to personal health information,” said HHS spokesperson Erin Shields Britt, to Kaiser Health News.

The IRS refused to comment when questioned.

The present plan is for the IRS to verify and document income and the consumer's insurance status.  This is contemplated to begin in 2014 in order to determine the consumer's insurance status.  The result will be used to determine a fine or penalty in lieu of insurance.

Thus far we have seen extreme difficulty with the mandate for October 2014,  wherein the Health Benefit Exchanges would be accessible to the public. This did not occur, as planned.

The vagaries of having two large governmental agencies coordinating their  tasks is worrisome. HHS has demonstrated problems with their own agency, and this behavior by the Internal Revenue Services raises serious questions about HHS and the IRS conforming to HIPAA regulations.

The roll out of the ACA has been fraught with difficulties, and the majority of Americans are not  in favor of continuing in it's present form.  Some want the ACA repealed, others want major amendments to the law.

Despite law our executive branch makes unilateral decisions, ignores mandate dates, and has caused major upset to insurers and patients, alike.

Trust and faith have much to do with acceptance of laws, and the doctor-patient relationship. As physicians our duty is our patients. Most patients do not understand the  inner workings of the system until it goes wrong.

It is our ethical responsibility to inform our patients how the system  works, and the inherent and probable dangers of the affordable care act.

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