CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1509 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) on April 13, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. The following Legislative Digest is based on the text of the bill as posted on the House Majority Leader’s website.
H.R. 1509 would amend title II of the Social Security Act to prohibit the inclusion of Social Security account numbers on Medicare cards. The bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Commissioner of Social Security to establish cost-effective procedures to ensure that a Social Security number is not displayed, coded, or embedded on the Medicare card.
The bill would allow the Secretary to determine the effective date of the prohibition; however, the effective date must be no later than three years after the enactment of this bill. The bill would also provide for the reissuance of Medicare cards to ensure they comply with the bill’s requirements no later than three years after the effective date determined by HHS.
The bill would provide amounts in the Medicare Improvement Fund that are available for expenditures from the Fund for services furnished in a fiscal year (through fiscal year 2020) for transfer to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Program Management Account as the Secretary determines necessary to offset the costs incurred. This funding will also be made available to the Social Security Administration at scheduled intervals for the full costs of the responsibilities of the Commissioner. The bill would require the Secretary of HHS and the Commissioner of Social Security to keep a detailed accounting of the related expenditures and submit a report on such expenditures to Congress on a semi-annual basis, in each of fiscal years 2013 to 2021.
The bill would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study that examines whether the Medicare program should use smart card technology for beneficiary cards and for provider membership cards. The bill would require a report on the study’s findings to be submitted to Congress within two years of enactment.
According to the bill’s sponsor, nearly 50 million Medicare cards display Social Security Numbers (SSNs), which are the main component of the health insurance claim number (HICN). Seven percent, or about 8.6 million of U.S. households, had a least one member who experienced identity theft in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Of these households, over 1 million were headed by seniors, age 65 and older who risk having their SSN stolen to obtain employment, benefits and credit.
GAO first recommended removing the SSN from government documents in 2002. In 2008, the House passed by voice H.R. 6600, a bill sponsored by Representatives Lloyd Doggett and Sam Johnson similar to H.R. 1509.
A CBO score of H.R. 1509 was not available as of press time.