News Roundup on IRS Scandal: Lawsuit Alleges IRS Improperly Seized 60 Million Personal Medical Records
With so much news breaking on the IRS scandal in the wake of recent revelations that the agency unfairly targeted conservative groups, we’ve rounded up links to some of the most relevant coverage on the topic for Legal Insurrection readers.
We start with big news this morning. As suspicion of the IRS and worries about the government’s potential abuse of power grows, a few outlets are now reporting that an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California filed a class action lawsuit alleging that “some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents.” The suit could potentially bring compensatory damages that start at a minimum of $250 billion, according to reports.
From a Forbes article titled The IRS Raids 60 Million Personal Medical Records:
In a story reported by Erin McCann of Healthcare IT News, (You can follow her on Twitter @EMcCannHITN), the IRS is alleged to have improperly accessed some 60 million medical records from 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by Courthousenews.com, which first reported on the action, an unnamed healthcare provider in California is bringing the lawsuit against the IRS and 15 of its agents. The personal health information was allegedly seized by the IRS on March 11, 2011.
More from the Healthcare IT News report:
“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents,” the complaint reads. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records,” it continued.
According to the case, the IRS agents had a search warrant for financial data pertaining to a former employee of the John Doe company, however, “it did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter,” the complaint read.
Given the current scandal in which the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups, combined with this new news about the IRS allegedly abusing its power to seize ten million private citizens’ medical records, the pushback from lawmakers against funding Obamacare seems wholly warranted.
It was also reported yesterday that the IRS released confidential info on conservative groups to ProPublica, an investigative-reporting organization. These were groups with applications that were not yet approved; a move that IRS official Lois Lerner previously told a congressional oversight committee would be a violation of federal guidelines to disclose publicly.
The Treasury inspector general’s report found that “ineffective management” facilitated the “inappropriate criteria” that targeted conservative groups and placed burdensome reporting requirements upon them.
President Obama responded to the report, calling its findings on the actions of the IRS “intolerable and inexcusable.”
Attorney General Eric Holder followed suit by announcing that the Justice Department has opened a criminal probe of the IRS’s treatment of tea-party groups. “The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS,” Holder said.
Karl Rove has since weighed-in, stating that low level IRS employees were doing what people on Capitol Hill (namely Democrats) wanted them to do.
“The administration is blaming this on low-level bureaucrats in Cincinnati and that turned out not to be true. We know people at the [IRS central headquarters] in Washington were involved. But we are missing something else. Remember, they were doing what people on Capitol Hill wanted them to do,” Rove said on Fox News on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Center for Public Integrity is reporting that IRS employees backed Obama and Democrats during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, contributing more than $110,000 to the president.DONATE
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