Senator Charles Grassley says a new federal report shows the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs aren’t very good at protecting “sensitive personal medical information.” Grassley requested the report from the Governmental Accountability Office and it was released this (Tuesday) morning.

“The auditors…found serious shortcomings in the way that the federal government shares information with health care providers and other contractors,” Grassley says. “The report says that the agency controls are very weak.”

Grassley says as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he has jurisdiction over the two government health care programs and Grassley vows to “stay on top” of Medicare and Medicaid officials and get them to address the problems.

“Beneficiaries and providers naturally expect that sensitive health information is protected. In fact, most people don’t give it a second thought…and feel that their privacy is protected,” Grassley says. “It’s up to the agency officials to ensure that this system is, in fact, secure.”

Grassley says he doesn’t think those who administer the Medicare and Medicaid programs are “insensitive” about privacy issues, but obviously privacy isn’t being adequately protected. “The simple answer is I think there’s too many fingers in the pie,” Grassley says. “Too many private and government agencies have access to the information or communicate with each other.”

Also today, Grassley’s asking for a government audit of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation which guarantees pensions for 40 million American workers. Grassley says he wants to make sure the corporation is structured properly and operating efficiently.