Robert Hurt: Protecting Americans’ privacy on Healthcare.gov
Hearing from those living and working in Virginia’s Fifth District continues to be my greatest resource as I serve them. Their input has brought to light problems created by some of the big government programs coming out of Washington.
Recently, 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 ultimately decided not to sign up for healthcare coverage, he still could not remove his profile from the site. When he called the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), he was told there was personal information that simply could not be removed.
He then asked our office to contact HHS and reiterate his request, but we were also told applicants could delete applications but could not remove all of their information from the system. We found that other people experienced the same problem, so we continued to press HHS for answers but received no justification for this policy. It became clear that legislative action would be necessary to ensure that Americans can protect their personal information.
Repealing the President’s healthcare law and replacing it with healthcare reform based upon market-oriented principles remains one of my top priorities, but with such sensitive information at risk, this problem must be resolved as soon as possible.
I recently introduced the Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act, H.R. 5610, along with my democratic colleague, Congressman John Barrow of Georgia, which will enable individuals to remove their profiles from the federal healthcare website, HealthCare.gov.
This issue is particularly critical given all the reports over the past year regarding the security vulnerabilities of HealthCare.gov. In July, HealthCare.gov was hacked, and the malicious software embedded in the site was not even discovered for weeks. Two weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study pointing out that several privacy and security risks from the site’s launch, almost a full year ago, had not yet been fixed. The gao reported that there are still serious risks of unauthorized access, disclosure, and modification to all information collected and maintained by this website.
This administration has been so focused on getting Healthcare.gov 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 the most recent report – it is astonishing that these digital vulnerabilities persist, jeopardizing the personal information of millions of Americans.
These grave security concerns make it even more imperative that individuals have the ability to remove their personal information permanently from Healthcare.gov, which this bill enables. The bipartisan Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act is a direct response to these concerns about privacy and the protection of personal information for those using Healthcare.gov, and it is a compliment to the robust oversight we in the House are conducting to press the administration to protect this data.
While I still believe we need repeal the President’s healthcare law and replace it with real healthcare reform based upon market-oriented principles, the Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act is a critical step forward. It is my hope this bill moves swiftly through the legislative process. I look forward to working with Representative Barrow and my colleagues to ensure that individual privacy is protected.
If you need any additional information, 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.
Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District in Congress.