Obamacare's Centralization of Date Fuels Privacy Fears


The biggest overhaul of the U.S. health-care system in 50 years has spawned one of the most complex computer projects in the government's history.

Dubbed the Hub, the $267 million computer system built by a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) is one of the most important determiners of whether the Affordable Care Act succeeds. The hub ties together the databases of seven U.S. agencies, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Peace Corps, to determine which Americans can buy medical coverage and get U.S. subsidies through the new government-run insurance exchanges.

Marilyn Tavenner, the Medicare chief whose agency will oversee the hub, is set to report in a congressional hearing today that the system's construction is complete and testing will be finished by Sept. 1, a month before the exchanges open. Security, a subject scrutinized by Republicans, will be assured through strict rules on standards that all parties who use the hub must sign, U.S. officials said. …

"It's information on 300 million Americans, all compiled in one place—what could go wrong?" said Representative James Lankford, the Oklahoma Republican presiding over today's hearing, in a telephone interview. "They're going to have to assure a lot of Americans that their information is going to be held safe, and that there's a purpose for that."