Pitts Releases Bill to Protect Health Care Data

Jan 6, 2014 Issues: Health Care

Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) unveiled legislation to protect health care data submitted to Obamacare exchanges, the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act. The bill, which will be considered by the House later this week, would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify individuals of any breach on the health care law exchanges (both state and federal) that endangers personal data and information within 2 business days.

“People getting health care through new exchanges have to submit a great deal of personal information. With Healthcare.gov continuing to undergo maintenance and construction, computer security experts have warned that this data could be vulnerable to hackers,” said Pitts. “Identity theft can be devastating to individuals and families. We need to make sure that the government promptly notifies exchange enrollees if their data is stolen.”

Administration officials repeatedly assured the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, chaired by Pitts, that the website would be ready and secure by the October 1 launch. The significant problems encountered in the launch proved that Healthcare.gov was far from complete. Even as of November, the official in charge of the website testified that major portions were still not completed.

“In hearings leading up to the launch of Healthcare.gov, we repeatedly asked administration officials about the security of the website,” said Pitts. “It is clear that there has been a lack of proper security procedures and thorough testing. My bill is a simple and common sense measure to require the government to protect enrollees. Because of the sensitivity of this data, it is critical that we pass legislation as soon as possible.”

Draft text of the legislation is available online here.