Robert Hurt: Protecting Americans’ information on HealthCare.gov
Hearing from those living and working in Virginia’s Fifth District has always been, and continues to be, my greatest resource as I serve you. Your input has brought to light problems created by some of the big government programs coming out of Washington.
Last year, a constituent contacted our office to express concern over the fact that he was unable to delete his profile from HealthCare.gov. Even though he decided not to sign up for healthcare coverage through the federal online marketplace, he was unable to remove his profile from the site. When he called the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), he was told that his personal information simply could not be removed.
After investigating the issue, we discovered that others were experiencing the same problem and that HHS had no justification for this policy. After HHS refused to fulfill my request to change this policy, it became clear that legislative action would be necessary to ensure that Americans have the ability to protect their personal information. That is why I recently introduced the Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act, H.R. 1446, with my Democratic colleague, Congressman Collin Peterson of Minnesota. This bill will enable individuals to remove their profiles and personal information from the federal healthcare website if they decline to purchase a plan through the site.
This issue is critically important given all the reports over the past year and a half regarding the security vulnerabilities of HealthCare.gov. In July, HealthCare.gov was hacked, and HHS did not even discover the malicious software embedded in the site for weeks. In September, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study pointing out that several privacy and security risks from the site’s launch months earlier had not yet been fixed. The GAO report expressed concerns that serious risks of unauthorized access, disclosure, and modification of all information collected and maintained by this website still persist.
To make matters worse, in January, the Associated Press reported that private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data were obtaining consumers’ personal data from HealthCare.gov. This Administration was so focused on getting the federal online marketplace to function at a basic level that it did not take sufficient action to ensure that users’ personal information will be protected. Given the outrageous amount of money the Administration has spent building the website – more than $2 billion according to a Bloomberg report – it is astonishing that these major digital vulnerabilities persist, jeopardizing the personal information of millions of Americans.
While I remain focused on repealing the President’s healthcare law and replacing it with real healthcare reform based upon market-oriented principles, the Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act is a critical step in the interim to protect individuals’ personal information. It is my hope this commonsense, bipartisan bill moves swiftly through the legislative process. Congress must also remained focused on its oversight role and continue pressing the administration to secure HealthCare.gov. I look forward to working with Representative Peterson and my colleagues to ensure that individual privacy is protected.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.