House GOP Questions IRS About Seizure of Health Records in Calif.
On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service asking how it handles confidential medical information following a lawsuit over the seizure of millions of health records in California, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Details of Lawsuit
The lawsuit -- which was filed in San Diego Superior Court on March 11 -- claims that 15 unnamed IRS agents exercised "corruption and abuse of power" by allegedly seizing more than 60 million health records while investigating the former employee of a health care provider.
The plaintiffs said that the records contained information about individuals':
- Drug treatment;
- Gynecological counseling;
- Psychological counseling; and
- Sexual health treatment.
According to the complaint, no search warrant or subpoena authorized the seizure of the records, and "none of the 10 million Americans [reflected in the records] were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation."
The plaintiffs argue that the IRS' actions violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches.
Details of Letter
In the letter -- which was sent to Danny Werfel, IRS acting commissioner -- GOP panel leaders wrote, "In light of these allegations and in anticipation of the IRS' increased role in implementing health care under the [Affordable Care Act], we are writing to request information regarding your agency's ability to protect the confidential medical information of millions of Americans" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.