Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Bachmann invents IRS database of personal secrets

The statement

The IRS is going to be "in charge" of "a huge national database" on health care that will include Americans' "personal, intimate, most close-to-the-vest-secrets."

Michele Bachmann, in an interview on Fox News

The ruling

Is the government constructing a database? The Federal Data Services hub that the government is creating is a mechanism for extracting data from a variety of databases that exist at other agencies. The hub doesn't collect, centralize and store data; it is designed to allow real-time access to data that resides on servers of other agencies in order to verify transactions related to the health insurance exchanges.

In an April release, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of HHS, said that it has completed the hub's technical design and is in the midst of testing it. "The hub will not store consumer information, but will securely transmit data between state and federal systems to verify consumer application information," the center said in the statement. Health and Human Services pledges "strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information," added spokesman Brian Cook.

"This is not a huge national database of health records," said Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Will the IRS be "in charge" of the hub? No. It's being built by HHS. To ensure compatibility, the IRS needs to cooperate with the department on the effort, but the IRS has only a supporting role in building the system, and the IRS will not be able to use the hub to view information in the other agencies' databases.

Will the hub include "personal" or "intimate" details? The hub is not designed to access, much less store, information like body mass index, or whether you have a serious illness or ingrown toenails. The hub will be able to tell if someone has insurance or not, but it will not access records about their health. It could access details such as adjusted gross income and Social Security numbers, but those already exist in federal databases, so the hub wouldn't represent an expansion of federal data collection.

Would the hub affect all, or most Americans? No. The data won't be accessed by the hub unless an individual logs on to the new insurance exchanges in order to purchase insurance.

So Bachmann has mischaracterized the intent and limitations of the hub. It's not a "database." The IRS isn't running it. It won't include "intimate" health data. And most Americans won't need to interact with it at all. We rate her claim Pants on Fire.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Published: 02/19/18