The Obama administration on Wednesday said it would announce a series of initiatives aimed at quelling Americans’ fears over data privacy and security concerns related to the Affordable Care Act. The measures are meant to ensure that sensitive financial data submitted while signing up for Obamacare is not stolen or abused by criminals.
The plans will include a toll-free hotline where Americans can report fraud and identity theft attempts, according to Reuters. The administration will also initiate an online verification system to verify the identity of those attempting to access or submit sensitive information — a move that’s meant to stop potential fraudsters from taking advantage of government-funded insurance subsidies available under the health law.
High-profile Republican lawmakers and leaders such as Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) have raised a host of concerns over Americans’ medical and financial security under the health law. Scott has claimed that so-called “navigators” who will be in charge of helping Americans sign up for insurance plans on Obamacare’s statewide marketplaces would be privy to people’s personal financial data and may use it to bilk the very Americans they are supposed to help — concerns that he laid out in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Monday.
Officials tasked with implementing the law have responded that the navigators will be no different from — and have access to no more information than — the people who help enroll Americans into programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Nonetheless, the new security measures make sense considering that agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department have warned that others may try to take advantage of confusion over the new government program and try to dupe Americans or steal their credit card and Social Security information during the nascent days of the law. These types of scams and fraud would be less likely if Americans were well-informed about Obamacare — but Republican obstruction has made outreach and education efforts an uphill battle.