Republicans to Open 2014 With Obamacare Data-Theft Bill

The GOP is pushing legislation that would require the administration to disclose any security breaches on the exchanges.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (C) arrives for a meeting of House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Boehner met with the Republican Conference after the Senate announced earlier that it had reached a bipartisan deal on funding the federal government and extending the nation's debt limit after 16 days of a government shutdown.
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Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Jan. 2, 2014, 12:42 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans will start the year with le­gis­la­tion aimed at se­cur­ity re­quire­ments for Obama­care’s health in­sur­ance ex­changes.

The House next week will con­sider le­gis­la­tion that would re­quire the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices to no­ti­fy con­sumers whenev­er a se­cur­ity breach oc­curs, House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor an­nounced Thursday in a memo to Re­pub­lic­ans.

Un­der present policy, CMS eval­u­ates wheth­er con­sumer data were at risk when de­cid­ing if an is­sue war­rants no­ti­fic­a­tion — but Can­tor wants to make no­ti­fic­a­tion auto­mat­ic.

“If a breach oc­curs, it shouldn’t be up to some bur­eau­crat to de­cide when or even wheth­er to in­form an in­di­vidu­al that their per­son­al in­form­a­tion has been ac­cessed,” Can­tor said in the memo.

The le­gis­la­tion would ad­dress oth­er se­cur­ity con­cerns, he said, cit­ing Re­pub­lic­an Reps. Di­ane Black of Ten­ness­ee, Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, and Gus Bi­lira­kis of Flor­ida among those who have pro­posed sim­il­ar meas­ures.

Se­cur­ity and pri­vacy con­cerns have been the fo­cus of a hand­ful of hear­ings on Cap­it­ol Hill, where doc­u­ments re­vealed that the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment and con­tract­ors in­volved in the cre­ation of Health­Care.gov were con­cerned in the days and weeks lead­ing up to the web­site’s launch.

Ul­ti­mately, the move is a part of the House Re­pub­lic­an goal to re­peal and re­place the pres­id­ent’s health law.

Drew Ham­mill, spokes­man for House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, called Can­tor’s an­nounce­ment a par­tis­an game.

House Re­pub­lic­ans “con­tin­ue to re­main in­tent on un­der­min­ing or re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act at every turn, and that ef­fort even ex­tends to scar­ing their con­stitu­ents from ob­tain­ing health cov­er­age,” Ham­mill said in a press re­lease.

The ques­tion of data se­cur­ity on the ex­changes is hotly con­tested. Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gue the ad­min­is­tra­tion is down­play­ing con­cerns to pro­tect the law’s stand­ing and en­cour­age en­roll­ment, while Demo­crats ar­gue the GOP is over­stat­ing the prob­lems and craft­ing le­gis­la­tion to bring more at­ten­tion to them.

In Decem­ber, Rep. Henry Wax­man, D-Cal­if., re­leased part of a clas­si­fied HHS brief­ing that re­por­ted only 32 se­cur­ity in­cid­ents since Oct. 1, none of which in­volved a suc­cess­ful theft of any in­form­a­tion.

Some 2.1 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans signed up for private health in­sur­ance on the ex­changes in time for Jan. 1 cov­er­age, as long as they paid their premi­ums. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­peatedly said in con­gres­sion­al hear­ings that it does not be­lieve con­sumer data to be at risk, be­cause the data hub used by Health­Care.gov to veri­fy iden­tity and in­come does not store per­son­al in­form­a­tion.

The House re­turns Tues­day, Jan. 7.

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