White House opposes ObamaCare transparency as "administratively burdensome"

I don’t have my Yiddish-English dictionary available, but this has to be the best example of chutzpah yet. The White House announced its opposition to bills under consideration in the House that would require HHS to start reporting weekly on their incompetent rollout of ObamaCare and especially the data integrity of the exchange.  The reason?  It’s just too burdensome, the White House explains (via JWF and Instapundit):

The Obama administration stopped short Thursday of threatening to veto House bills to require officials to tell people if their personal data has been compromised through ObamaCare, and to require weekly reports on the health law’s implementation.

The White House said in two Statements of Administration Policy that it opposed both bills, one of which is set for a Friday vote in the House.

Weekly reporting requirements on both enrollments and the operation of the HealthCare.gov website would require “unfunded, unprecedented, and unnecessary reporting requirements” on the health insurance exchanges, it said in one statement.

“It would require the reporting of data on a weekly basis that is generally being provided on a monthly basis,” the White House wrote. “Few major indicators — from job growth to Medicare Advantage enrollment to private shareholder reports — are provided more frequently than monthly; this bill would hold the Marketplaces and State Medicaid programs to unprecedented standards.”

Unfunded? HHS has its own revenue stream for ObamaCare, and has for years. Congress can’t touch it without rewriting the statutes, which would require Senate approval (not likely) and Obama’s signature (good luck with that) or two-thirds majorities for a veto override (not in this session of Congress).  HHS had 42 months to put those revenue streams to work in delivering a web portal that most private-sector firms could successfully launch in six months.

Given the abject failures of the system, it’s hardly unreasonable for Congress to demand a closer accounting for what HHS is doing to rescue itself from its own incompetence.  In fact, it’s a little surprising that the White House isn’t demanding these reports already from Kathleen Sebelius. Are they just checking in with Sebelius once a month? If they’re getting reports from Sebelius more often than that, why can’t they just share those with Congress?

The second statement is even more absurd than the first. In it, the White House objects to reporting requirements on security deficiencies, because notifying consumers of data breaches in a timely manner would “create unrealistic and costly paperwork requirements.” You mean like individual and employer mandates?

The Administration believes Americans’ personally-identifiable information should be protected wherever it resides, and that all Americans deserve to know if that information has been improperly exposed. Accordingly, the Federal Government adheres to extensive requirements for safeguarding against and responding to the breach of personally-identifiable information.  Additionally, the Administration called upon the Congress in May 2011 to pass national data breach legislation reflecting a real solution to this complex issue.

The Federal Government has already put in place an effective and efficient system for securing personally‑identifiable information in the Health Insurance Marketplaces and providing consumers notification if their personally-identifiable information has been compromised. When consumers fill out their online Marketplace applications, they can trust that the information that they are providing is protected by stringent security standards.

The components of the HealthCare.gov website that are now operational comply with Federal security standards.  Security testing is conducted on an ongoing basis using industry best practices designed to appropriately safeguard consumers’ personal information.

The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 3811 because it would create unrealistic and costly paperwork requirements that do not improve the safety or security of personally-identifiable information in the Health Insurance Marketplaces.  For example, the indiscriminate reporting requirement in H.R. 3811 may seriously impede the law enforcement investigation of a breach.  Unlike existing requirements, H.R. 3811 requires expensive and unnecessary notification for the compromise of publicly-available information, even if there is no reasonable risk that information could be used to cause harm.

Gabriel Malor of AoSHQ took to Twitter to expose the hypocrisy of this claim, especially in the context of compliance for religious organizations:


Hopefully, Gabriel will write more about this later at AoSHQ, but be sure to read the rest of his timeline today (and follow him, if you don’t already). Maybe administrations that don’t want to be administratively burdened by transparency should limit their intrusions into marketplaces and personal choices.