The Internal Revenue Service is facing allegations that it illegally stole medical records from more than ten million Americans during a raid on a Southern California health care facility this year.
IRS agents "stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans, including at least 1,000,000 Californians," according to a lawsuit filed in March by an unnamed company in California superior court.
"This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents," the plaintiffs claim.
The lawsuit could fuel public outrage at the IRS, which is already under fire for targeting Tea Party groups for increased legal scrutiny while allowing liberal groups to operate relatively unimpeded.
The IRS is also the chief enforcement agency for the Affordable Care Act, making concerns about their handling of health care records of particular note.
The lawsuit, which lists 15 unnamed IRS officials as defendants, claims that those officials illegally seized records during a March 11, 2011 raid on the "John Doe Company."
The raid involved alleged wrongdoing by a former employee of the company, but the complaint says IRS agents seized millions of records that did not pertain to that investigation and failed to offer even "the illusion of legitimacy and legality."
"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 states.
"These medical records contained intimate and private information of more than 10,000,000 Americans, information that by its nature includes information about treatment for any kind of medical concern, including psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual or drug treatment, and a wide range of medical matters covering the most intimate and private of concerns," the complaint adds.
An IRS representative said it is the agency’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
After IRS agents illegally seized the medical records in question, the suit continues, they remained in the office and used a company television to watch the NCAA tournament. The Connecticut Huskies, who would go on to win the tournament, topped the Syracuse Orange by a score of 76-71 on March 11, 2011.
The IRS is currently embroiled in scandal after top agency officials admitted that they targeted conservative political groups for increased scrutiny. Liberal groups conducting comparable activities were not similarly targeted.
Concerns over the IRS’ handling of medical records raise concerns about the agency’s impending health care authority under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, according to Scott Gottlieb, who has served in the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"The Obama Administration shouldn’t settle for this. Neither should we," wrote Gottlieb, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
"Americans should demand that the Obama team work a little harder to get its signature legislation off the ground without pulling the IRS so deeply into our healthcare."