Last night on CNN, New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone went head to head with Texas Representative Joe Barton to address their heated exchange during yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce Committe hearing. During that hearing yesterday morning, Barton tried to perpetuate the myth that the Marketplace is violating HIPAA laws, while Pallone called him out for blatantly trying to mislead Americans.
Of course the actual back and forth got us nowhere, with both gentlemen claiming that they were right. It did, however, prompt a promise by Rep. Barton to post on his Facebook page the part of the disclaimer he claims violates HIPAA.
Well, true to his word, he did just that.
There’s only one problem—his “proof” just shows that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.
The Terms and Conditions agreement does have the wording Barton used, except he took it completely out of context and didn’t read the full part of it. Though he did post it on his page.
The disclaimer reads:
You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any information transiting or stored on this information system. At any time, and for any lawful government purpose, the government may monitor, intercept, and search and seize any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system. Any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system may be disclosed or used for any lawful government purpose.
First, the word “lawful” is written twice. Violating HIPAA would be unlawful, therefore not allowed. Second, you don’t input any HIPAA-related information while signing up on the Marketplace to begin with. Yes, you have to put your Social Security number and answer a few very basic health questions like “Are you currently disabled?” or for women “Are you currently pregnant?” These are not intrusive questions about your medical conditions.
Hell, I answer more invasive questions when getting a new auto insurance quote.
So Barton’s “proof” is only evidence of his blatant fear mongering or complete inability to comprehend what he’s reading.
The passage he posted on his Facebook page says the government must act lawfully (violating HIPAA would be unlawful) and it’s only for the data you enter on the website—none of that data falls under HIPAA standards anyway.
So when Rep. Pallone called out Barton’s antics during the website hearings, he was absolutely right. Barton’s claims are baseless and meant to stir up fear in those who react to what they hear rather than research what they hear.
It’s a clear attempt by Barton, and the Republican party, to try to make Americans fearful of going to the website and signing up for health insurance.
But at the end of the day, Barton’s “proof” only proved his own ignorance.