Last week, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) did his level best to introduce a new complaint into the debate over health care reform: the troubled website isn’t, he claimed, compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It wasn’t long before Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) had debunked the argument and Barton was exposed as clueless.
But as is too often the case, that didn’t end the argument. A day later, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) raised the same argument during an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello. As Igor Volsky noted, the anchor tried to get Blackburn to explain her concerns, and it really didn’t go well.
COSTELLO: I’m trying to understand what kind of information you’re talking about. What kind of information are you talking about? What specifically does the website ask that I might be afraid might shared with whomever? Specifically. What information?BLACKBURN: You should be very concerned not only as you navigate the website but as you make a purchase, and then as your information is handled, what we want to make certain is that an individual’s medical information their financial information is all going to be kept in a private manner. What we do not want is a peeping Tom who is going to look through their PII, their personal identifying information. they want to make certain the federal government has standards and are applying and abiding by the privacy laws that are on the books and by the HIPAA regulations that every hospital and every doctor abide by.
That’s a nice word salad, I suppose, but none of this makes any sense at all. Blackburn doesn’t even appear to understand the basics of her own argument, which she volunteered to discuss in a nationally televised interview.
So why bother? Part of the issue appears to be straightforward policy ignorance, but it also seems as if Blackburn, among others, simply wants to scare people. The point is to put an idea in people’s minds: if you’re uninsured and want to get affordable coverage, maybe your privacy will be violated because the system may be in conflict with HIPAA.
It’s not true – it’s not even close – but that’s apparently not important. If the question itself discourages eligible families from getting covered, Republicans see it as a “win,” whether they’re pushing policy gibberish or not.