Politics
This March 22, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

House committee looks into IRS seizure of 60 million medical records

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are looking into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service seized 60 million medical records from a California health care provider.

“(T)he Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the course of executing a search warrant at a California health care provider’s corporate headquarters in March 2011, improperly seized the personal medical records of millions of American citizens in possible violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” members of the committee wrote in a letter Tuesday to Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel.

The letter to Werfel, which requires a response by June 25, comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by an unnamed health-care provider against the IRS in California Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleged that 15 IRS agents improperly stole medical records during search of the facility in March 2011, according to a report about the incident from Court House News.

The search warrant the agents were executing, the committee noted in citing the Court House News report, was allegedly limited to financial records of a former employee of the company, not medical records. (RELATED: IRS seeks to buy hidden cameras, surveillance equipment)

“In light of these allegations and in anticipation of the IRS’s increased role in implementing health care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we are writing to request information regarding your agency’s ability to both protect the confidential medical information of millions of Americans and respect the safeguards imposed by HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act],” the letter reads.

The IRS did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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