Drug Quality and Security Act—Motion to Proceedby Senator John Cornyn
Posted on 2013-11-06
CORNYN. Mr. President, I mentioned yesterday in my remarks on the
floor that the Obama administration has had 3\1/2\ years to prepare for
the rollout of the President's signature health care law. It has had
3\1/2\ years to get the Web site right and ready for its big debut. It
has had 3\1/2\ years to take all of the necessary safeguards to protect
privacy and the integrity of the Internet, particularly the Web site,
and make sure it is not ripe for identity theft and other cyber
It has had 3\1/2\ years to get together a proper vetting system for the so-called navigators. But despite all of that, despite all of that time, it is quite apparent that ObamaCare is not yet ready for prime time yet. In fact, it has been a slow-moving train wreck. The President is in Dallas today meeting with a number of the so-called navigators to thank them for their work.
I was able to ask Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, about the navigators this morning. She admitted there is no background check done on the navigators, even though they will collect some of the most sensitive personal information one can have, including things such as your Social Security number, that can be then used to hack into your accounts; your health information, whether it is mental or physical, which is among the most sensitive personal information each of us has.
She admitted that since they do not do any background check, she could not guarantee that a convicted felon could not be a navigator. She said that was possible. I think that is something that grabbed a lot of people's attention because they just naturally assumed that sort of thing has been taken care of in the 3\1/2\ years leading up to the rollout of ObamaCare.
We know the more people find out about this law--I liken it to an onion. With each layer of the onion you peel back, it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. The law is proving to be even more unworkable and even more disruptive than its biggest critics could have even imagined.
But I wanted to focus my remaining moments on the floor on two issues: privacy and security. The ObamaCare Web site went live on October 1. But according to CBS News, a deadline for final security plans was delayed three times this summer. A final top-to-bottom security check was never finished before the launch. That is pretty astonishing, something as big, as widely anticipated, and as long planned for as the rollout of ObamaCare and its Web site, a security check was not even completed before it was rolled out on October 1.
Just think what it means. It means the administration was encouraging Americans to enter sensitive personal information onto the ObamaCare Web site, even though it knew the Web site was not secure. Of course, we know the Web site is not functioning properly now. White House officials continue to refuse to even give Congress the number of people who successfully navigated the ObamaCare Web site and signed up under the exchanges.
You know what that must mean. That must mean the number is embarrassingly small. But they are also scrambling to do damage control. The President is urging people to contact their local ObamaCare navigators to sign up for health insurance and suggesting: Maybe you ought to do it by paper or by telephone.
We found out that the same queue or foulup that makes it impossible to sign up over the Internet is present with paper applications or telephone applications as well. As I said, the President met with some of the ObamaCare navigators in Dallas, TX, today. I trust that the overwhelming number of these navigators are people who can be trusted with some of the most sensitive personal information we Americans have.
But the problem is, we do not know for sure because they have not been vetted. There is not even a criminal background check required. Remember, the navigators are going to be collecting some of the most sensitive personal information you have, including your Social Security number, your protected health information such as your past, present or future physical or mental health.
We passed a law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, to protect this information because we recognized how sensitive it can be. Of course, the navigators are also collecting information about your physical or e-mail address, tax information, because, of course, the Internal Revenue Service is going to be instrumental in the implementation of ObamaCare.
There is no Federal requirement for background checks for individuals serving as navigators. This has to be a glaring oversight, something I would hope even the most ardent advocates for ObamaCare would acknowledge is a big mistake and needs to be fixed. But in the absence of thorough background checks and reliable oversight mechanisms, the navigator program could easily become a magnet for fraud and abuse.
We know what a big problem identity theft is already and how much havoc it can present for people's personal financial affairs and information. We also know how vulnerable things such as Web sites can be to cyber attacks, where people can collect information unbeknownst to the consumer. We have already heard some anecdotal reports about ObamaCare navigators, including a woman who had an outstanding arrest warrant at the time she was hired, along with former members of an organization known as ACORN that has had its own share of problems with corruption and lawbreaking.
As I said a moment ago, those people will be allowed to collect some of the most sensitive personal information that we have as Americans. Thinking of sensitive information, the most important provisions of ObamaCare, including the individual mandates, the employer mandates and the premium subsidies, will be administered by, you guessed it, the Internal Revenue Service, words that strike fear and trepidation in the hearts of many Americans, especially given the scandals the Internal Revenue Service has been embroiled in and the bipartisan investigations that are ongoing into the cause and solution to these scandals.
I know I speak for many of my constituents back home in Texas and perhaps many other Americans when I say that the last thing we ought to be doing is giving the IRS additional responsibilities until we have gotten to the bottom of the current scandals we are investigating on a bipartisan basis. We do not need to be giving them vast new powers to intrude into the lives of families and small businesses. As a matter of fact, I have introduced legislation that would prevent the IRS from performing this act. The last thing we want to do when they are having problems, when they are already having problems doing what they should be doing, is to give them more to do without solving the underlying problem.
Unfortunately, our friends across the aisle have blocked that legislation that would ban the IRS from its current role in administering ObamaCare. I would like to remind them that even if we ignore the agency's harassment of conservative organizations and ordinary American citizens engaging in their constitutional right to participate in the political process, we know the IRS has already shown contempt for the law by announcing it will issue ObamaCare's premium subsidies through the Federal exchanges, even though the law makes clear that premium subsidies are not available in the Federal exchange but only through the State exchange.
That is only a minor technical detail to the IRS. They are going to paper that over even though Congress provided to the contrary.
At some point the President needs to concede that the costs of ObamaCare [[Page S7861]] far outweigh its benefits. We can do better. The choice is not between ObamaCare and nothing; the choice is between ObamaCare and consumer- oriented alternatives that will increase competition, lower health care costs, and enable more people to be covered, together with reforms to Medicaid and perhaps even Medicare to make sure people have true access to health care coverage and not only a hollow promise.
At some point even the most ardent advocates for ObamaCare have to concede that it is broken beyond repair. I have to say that time is not on ObamaCare's side because each day brings a new revelation of more and more problems. Even some of our colleagues who voted in a party- line vote for ObamaCare and who voted in a party-line vote against any opportunity to reform ObamaCare are now saying--such as Senator Max Baucus, one of the chief architects--hey, maybe we need to delay the penalties. Senator Mary Landrieu has or will introduce a bill saying we ought to enforce in law the President's promise that if you like what you have, you can keep it, which we now know is not true. Indeed, HHS and the administration knew in 2010 that tens of millions of Americans who liked what they had would not be able to keep their health care plan because of restrictive grandfathering provisions.
When the moment comes that Democrats and Republicans have come together to try to solve this problem--not by shoring up this fatally flawed structure known as ObamaCare which will never work--when they are ready to work with us across the aisle to enact alternative health care reform that reduces costs, expands coverage, and improves equal access to care--I look forward to that debate and that opportunity. I only hope that day arrives sooner rather than later, before ObamaCare wreaks more havoc and causes more uncertainty and hardship on the American consumer.
I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.