McConnell Implores CMS to Not Open Obamacare Exchanges While Data Vulnerable to Thieves
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on the administration to not force people onto healthcare exchanges when the government is missing testing deadlines on the security of personal and financial data.
McConnell's letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday came on the heels of a Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General’s report last week that said CMS had missed deadlines and benchmarks on securing data of individuals on government exchanges.
"Americans should not be forced to enter into exchanges when CMS is so ill-prepared to guarantee the protection of personal data and taxpayer resources from hackers and cyber criminals who would use this sensitive data for personal gain," the minority leader wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
"As you know, I oppose Obamacare and support its full repeal. Yet in recent months, even some of the Administration’s closest allies have raised alarms about the potential implementation 'train wreck' to come. While I believe we ought to repeal this law and replace it with commonsense reforms that lower cost, Americans ought to be assured, at an absolute minimum, that their personal and financial data will be safe from data thieves," he added.
McConnell notes that HHS does not expect a final report from an independent testing organization assessing the system's security until 10 days before launch -- "hardly enough time to fix any problems that may be identified."
"Adding to these concerns are reports that CMS has signed a $1.2 billion contract with a company to receive, sort, and evaluate applications for financial assistance in the exchanges that include personal, sensitive data. According to published reports, this particular company 'has little experience with the Department of Health Human Services or the insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, where individuals and small businesses are supposed to be able to shop for insurance,'" the senator continued. "And just last year, it was disclosed that more than 120,000 enrollees in the federal Thrift Savings Plan had their personal information, including Social Security numbers, stolen from your contractor’s computers in 2011."
He requested that CMS not rush forward with any sloppy security certification just to meet an Obamacare timeline.
"While I have grave concerns about this law under any circumstance, Americans should not be forced into the exchanges, and certainly not without these assurances," McConnell said. "If you rush to go forward without adequate safeguards in place, any theft of personal information from constituents will be the result of your rush to implement a law to meet the agency’s political needs and not the operational needs of the people it is supposed to serve."