Most of us interact with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) once a year at tax time. But President Obama's Affordable Care Act health law puts us under the IRS's thumb all the time.
The IRS has a history of using leaks and delays to punish people based on their politics. The latest is news that the IRS delayed processing requests for tax-exempt status from the Obama administration's conservative critics, and even leaked information about them to the press.
It's frightening, because starting in January 2014 the Obama health care law vastly expands how the IRS can hurt you.
Alarmingly, the IRS official responsible for targeting conservative groups – Sarah Hall Ingram – has been promoted to top dog at the IRS office in charge of your health insurance.
An IRS that doesn't respect your political rights isn't likely to respect your medical privacy either. Who wants to worry that the IRS will leak your visits to a psychiatrist or delay your premium payment when you need cancer surgery?
When you file your taxes, you'll have to attach proof of insurance and provide the insurer's name and policy number to the IRS. When anything changes in your life, such as losing or changing your job, having a baby, or splitting with your spouse, the IRS will have to be notified. That's the agency that determines whether your coverage meets government requirements, how much you have to contribute, and whether you are eligible for a subsidy.
And what about your medical privacy? Most of us confide things to our doctor we wouldn't tell anyone else. Under the new law, doctors have to enter your medical history and treatments into an electronic database. The goal is one national inter-operative system. Privacy advocates from the far left to the far right have been calling for privacy protections.
Unfortunately, when the Department of Health and Human Services announced its revisions of federal medical privacy rules (HIPPA) a few weeks ago, there was no real protection. The revisions merely say if you want your doctor to keep certain things out of the database, pay cash.
This means you will need to talk with your doctor about keeping two sets of books. Most doctors take the Hippocratic Oath seriously, including their obligation to protect their patients' privacy.
More important, Americans who generally disregard politics need to pay attention to the tyranny machine being assembled at the White House.
Some day you may have to worry that your private information will be leaked if your company makes a political contribution or one of your children signs a political petition.
The president warned college graduates in a commencement speech on May 5 to disregard warnings that "tyranny is always lurking just around the corner." He urged them to trust government.
But Obama's response to the IRS revelations shows that he can't be trusted.
In the past week, he touted the resignations of two IRS officials – acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and head of the tax-exempt division, Joseph Grant. But Grant was merely Hall's deputy when she presided over the shameful misuse of IRS power.
Hall has to go, but the president is protecting her. And Congress should strip the IRS of any proximity to your health coverage or health care immediately.