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‘I Would Say the Website Is Either Hacked Already or Will Be Soon’

Congress studies alarming scenarios surrounding the security -- or insecurity -- of the online healthcare exchange.

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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November 23, 2013 - 1:05 pm
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WASHINGTON – House Republicans continue to pummel the Obama administration for failing to anticipate the glitches that have dogged HealthCare.gov since its rollout and for potential security issues on the website.

A House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday to look at some of the security issues on HealthCare.gov, the new federal health insurance marketplace.

Lawmakers from both parties agree that there are serious concerns about the website.

“The exchanges need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed fast,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said.

She said, however, her fear was that the hearing was less about the facts and more about “political points and undermining the ACA.”

“We should not create smoke if there’s no fire,” she added.

She and other Democrats on the panel complained that their Republican colleagues handed over new documents about the botched rollout to the press before giving them to Democrats.

“We have, clearly, a violation of the practices and traditions in history of this committee,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress. “I speak as a member who’s done more investigations than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.”

The Washington Post, which received the document from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reported the White House and Health and Human Services officials were warned earlier this year in a report by McKinsey & Co, a private consulting group, about the significant problems with the website.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who compared the complaints to a scene from the movie Casablanca, said he found them amusing.

“It is interesting and amusing that the past master of running this committee, Mr. Dingell, would be shocked, shocked and amazed that something was given to the Washington Post yesterday,” he said. “Now I’m not saying that it was, I don’t know, but if it did happen it wouldn’t be the first time in this committee’s history that documents were given to the press at the same time they were distributed” to other members of the committee.

Deputy Chief Information Officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Henry Chao said that even though he was in charge of the website oversight for CMS, he never saw the final report.

“I knew that McKinsey had been brought in to conduct some interviews and assessments and report to our administrator,” he said. “But I was not given the final report.”

Top administration officials, including HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and then-Acting CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner, attended briefings on the report in late March and early April. White House Technology Officer Todd Park, Obama health policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew, and then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Childress were also briefed on the McKinsey analysis around the same time.

The report foreshadowed many of the issues that have plagued the website since its rollout. It also warned that the federal government largely depended on contractors to construct the online marketplace and that it lacked an “end-to-end operational” view of the system to ensure that its different components worked well together.

Chao said a significant portion of the website – 30 to 40 percent of it – has yet to be constructed. The consumer part of the website, including account registration, and enrollment functions will not be affected by the ongoing site construction effort, he said.

“That 30 percent represents the payment aspects and the accounting aspects of making payments in the marketplaces, for all marketplaces, not just federally facilitated marketplaces,” Chao said. “And that functionality has to be in place for the January 1 effective date enrollments.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"HealthCare.gov contains 500 million lines of code and sees about 500,000 unique visitors each day. In comparison, Facebook has nearly 30 million lines of code and the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system has an estimated 50 to 80 million. This would put the website among some of the most complex applications ever written."

More like confused, bug filled, spaghetti bloatware.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
“We have, clearly, a violation of the practices & traditions in history of this committee,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress. “I speak as a member who’s done more investigations than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.”

Translation: 'Dammit, we're supposed to keep these boondoggles under wraps, especially when it's Democrats that cause them! I speak as a member who's done more to mess up this country than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.'

Thank you, Representative Dingellberry, er, Dingell.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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"“We have, clearly, a violation of the practices and traditions in history of this committee,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress. “I speak as a member who’s done more investigations than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.”"
-----------------------------------------

Ho boy is the crap ever getting deep in DC! How about that 'tradition' we follow Dingell-berry? Its called The Constitution Rep. Dingell-berry. How about actually following that? Those 'violations' practices' and 'traditions' you carp about are nothing more than you throwing a temper tantrum because those nasty republicans aren't playing to your tune - you aren't privy to first hand documentation and your party isn't in control of The House - WAA WAA! Something you could not possibly imagine is how much joy that causes me - and consternation in you - for which I am doubly joyous!

You morons have not only tried your best (getting better at it too!) to run this country into the ground - you've either lied to us or stonewalled us about your motives - health care - Benghazi - the IRS - NSA - and all manner of other things have been left unanswered - clues not followed and outright obfuscation from you and other democrats on these 'committees'. Maybe thats one of your 'traditions' too huh?

I guess you don't want to see your messiah be impeached.

I do.

You should go to jail for obstruction of justice but I know that'll never happen.


21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget "Fast & Furious"!!
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Redstate.com has already shown that the Obamacare exchange website is vulnerable to SQL injection attacks on its servers.

And those are among the oldest, most well-known ways to attack a website. Any website designer should have provided protection against SQL injection attacks.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"HealthCare.gov contains 500 million lines of code and sees about 500,000 unique visitors each day. In comparison, Facebook has nearly 30 million lines of code and the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system has an estimated 50 to 80 million. This would put the website among some of the most complex applications ever written."

More like confused, bug filled, spaghetti bloatware.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, Hacked within a few hours of going "online," such as it were.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
“The exchanges need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed fast,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said.

I certainly put a lot of trust in the political instincts of a Colorado Democrat...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
What would happen to, say, United Healthcare, if they knowingly directed their customers to an unsecure website to divulge their sensitive financial info?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
As long as an Obamacare plan was sold in the process, nothing.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"HealthCare.gov contains 500 million lines of code."

What counts as a line of code? Also, websites and the languages used to create them use lots of libraries or services - chunks of proven code that are called by the main program to deliver often complex functionality. There is no way that 500 million new lines of code were written for this website in the manner suggested by the article. I doubt any program manager or programmer would give out that number as a true or meaningful measure of anything. Someone is trying to save their bacon by pumping up the degree of difficulty.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, I'm not sure what the figure means either. From what I've heard it sounds like the trouble is working out how to integrate data from different databases and then produce a result for the consumer. I agree we need a better measure of the complexity of the problem. They may be getting to 'Mythical Man Month' territory where putting on more programmers just slows the project down. Or not.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Presumably, anyone using the site has standing to sue for exposure of personal info.

Presumably also, our Congressional reps would be notifying all of us of the dangers of using the site. Republicans especially should be saying "We warned you about losing your plans and your doctors and paying more for less. Now we're warning about serious security problems."

Why aren't they pressing for an injunction? Why aren't they using their free postage to send out mailings with red letters and warning signs?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
“We have, clearly, a violation of the practices & traditions in history of this committee,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress. “I speak as a member who’s done more investigations than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.”

Translation: 'Dammit, we're supposed to keep these boondoggles under wraps, especially when it's Democrats that cause them! I speak as a member who's done more to mess up this country than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.'

Thank you, Representative Dingellberry, er, Dingell.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
“I speak as a member who’s done more investigations than anybody in this room, including probably more than all of them put together.”

Alternate translation: "I've been here at least twenty years too long..."
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dingleberry is the correct term for that congressman!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The mind - if you can it that - of a Democrat - 0r Jenny wouldn't make up her mind.

Statement one "“The exchanges need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed fast,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said"

Indeed. Fixed, fixed thoroughly and right now.

And then - suspense being suspense "“We should not create smoke if there’s no fire,” she added."
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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