House passes Obamacare website security bill
January 10th, 2014
12:38 PM ET
7 months ago

House passes Obamacare website security bill

Washington (CNN) - New year, same focus. The Republican led House of Representatives, in its first major action of the 2014 session, voted on another bill aimed at Obamacare – this one meant to fix what the GOP views as a serious security problem with the new health care website.

The House Friday passed a bill 291-122 to require the Administration to notify within two days anyone impacted by a security breach on HealthCare.gov, the website where Americans can enroll for insurance coverage.

All House GOP members backed the measure and 67 Democrats crossed the aisle and voted for the bill.

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Michigan, pointed to the revelation on Friday morning that 70 million people were hit by a data breach at Target, a top retail store. Upton said his committee heard from senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Service who "expressed serious concerns" about the security of the heath care website before they rolled it out in October.

Democrats countered that those concerns have been addressed, and the GOP bill wasn't a serious effort to fix the law, but a move to discourage people from using the website to get health insurance.

"This is purely a message bill, that's all we do these days," California Democratic Rep Henry Waxman said, "this message is one that is designed to mislead."

Republicans said protecting American's personal information was one issue that should get bipartisan support, and the bill simply requires the Administration to own up to any security problems.

"It shouldn't take an act of Congress for the White House to provide that information, but the lack of transparency surrounding the security of the Obamacare website has proven that's the case," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the vote.

Aaron Albright, spokesman for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS,) told CNN, "to date, there have been no successful security attacks on Healthcare.gov and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information from the site. Security testing is conducted on an ongoing basis using industry best practices to appropriately safeguard consumers' personal information."

But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, noted that an outside credit agency warned the website was vulnerable and asked, "why do we wait until there is a data breach?"

New York Democratic Rep Joe Crowley argued the GOP had become "the shutdown party," citing last fall's government shutdown and arguing this latest Obamacare vote – one of over 40 in this session of Congress – was an attempt to shutdown the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In a tweak to the scandal involving Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and the deliberate shutdown of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, Crowley said, "heck they're even shutting down bridges in New Jersey."

The Obama Administration opposed the bill, and put out a statement on Thursday saying it would impose new burdens on the agencies charged with implementing the new health care law and potentially impede any investigation of any data breach.


Filed under: House • Obamacare
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Yawn. More messaging legislation from the House GOP/Teatrolls. Guess who is most likely to pay some offshore people, likely in China, to hack the website. Guess.

    January 10, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein

    Would there be anything else that the GOP/teapublicans/conservatives do that shows that they are willing to get more people covered by medical insurance in an affordable way? The security of the website is fine but doesn't address the larger issues that the health care law and site are trying to do. Where is their alternative to the ACA?

    January 10, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Blake

    This is one of those bills that's political theatre and is all about saying "Look Democrats oppose it, they hate security!!!" When in reality they oppose it because it causes unrealistic problems in reality and process for very little no no actual gain. These bills are always a waste of time a tax payer dollars when they would have been doing something more important, like naming a baseball diamond in Florida.

    January 10, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. timverba

    "But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, noted that an outside credit agency warned the website was vulnerable..."

    I am not sure what expertise a credit agency has in regards to website security. Why would Mr. Cantor seek website advise from a credit agency? Mr Cantor should explain what areas the credit agency found to be vulnerable. Is it the storage of data into specific file batches; is it at the data entry level; is at the correspondence between the user and the site?

    Then Congress should spend the money and time necessary to make those areas less vulnerable.

    January 10, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. ghostwriter

    Great! So when can we expect similar laws for the thousands of other city, state and local websites that have private information? Or are we just concerned about the one that republicans don't like?

    January 10, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Harold Peters

    Why wasn't the Heathcare.org website fully operational October 1st?
    But since the Obama Administration is so eager to put US citizens information at risk, but launching an un-secure website... at least someone is taking initiative.

    January 10, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Lakehead

    If this law regulating security breaches is good policy for a government website then it should also apply to all US websites. Of course that will never happen because Republicans will be against regulating the private sector citing prohibitive costs.

    January 10, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Keep up the good work boys. You will all need new jobs in November!

    January 10, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. O'drama ya Mama

    They claim that the private sector handles these things better then the Feds and then use Target (private sector) as an example of security breaches. Can anyone make sense of this?

    January 10, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    "Republicans said protecting American's personal information was one issue that should get bipartisan support"
    This from the party whose radical conservative base had h@ckers attacking the website. (oct-nov 2013 news)

    January 10, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. sammy750

    But they cannot pass an unemployment extension, minimum wage bill, immigration bill. They pass only trash bills. This shows the incompetence of Boehner and his gang.

    January 10, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. rs

    Lacking any proof at all that there are actual security gaps in the ACA web site, this is how the GOP wastes time. 40 million people get tapped out of Targets web site- just stoney silence from the GOP. Yo can hear it already"Hell, they're only consumers, and Target is a Corporat....oops they're people too".

    January 10, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    What a waste of tax payer money the house has become.

    January 10, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. PaulCat

    Will it take an act of Congress to get a JOBS bill passed?

    Why do you people continue to vote republican? Why?

    January 10, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. mike

    All i know is I have awesome affordable healthcare for the first time. Try prying that away, not a chance.

    January 10, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Tampa Tim

    These idiots in the house put in 100 days a year, make almost $200,000 and have yet to do anything but attack healthcare, attack women's rights, and neglect doing anything to create jobs. $2000 for a 4 hour day for utter incompetence from these congressional baggers.

    January 10, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Name sameeker

    Now if they will pass one regarding security for Microsoft, target, banks, and all the other corporations.

    January 10, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "They claim that the private sector handles these things better then the Feds and then use Target (private sector) as an example of security breaches. Can anyone make sense of this?"

    Cognitive dissonance is the conservative mind's bread and butter.

    January 10, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. neastsider

    It's another attempt by the baggers in Congress to sabotage/destroy the ACA. They're latest talking point is all of the persons information is wide open to anyone, and they keep talking to scare the beejeebers out of everyone to stay away from enrolling in the ACA. And if that doesn't work to their satisfaction, they probably go out and hire hackers to steal the info so they can teel eveyone "I told you so."

    January 10, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    If Congress remains in Republican hands after the November elections, we really need to start talking about a revolution.

    January 10, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    ghostwriter

    Great! So when can we expect similar laws for the thousands of other city, state and local websites that have private information? Or are we just concerned about the one that republicans don't like?
    -------------------
    Thank-you. Why single just the Affordable Care Act? What about the private sector, where the magnitude of this potential problem first came to light?

    January 10, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "40 million people get tapped out of Targets web site- just stoney silence from the GOP."

    Not to mention things like the highly-publicized breach of Playstation Network early last year, etc. Answering those breaches with legislation that would actually create requirements of corporations to protect consumers' private financial information is far less important than enacting legislation that is designed to manufacture the perception that there's a security problem with the ACA websites but does absolutely nothing to fix the alleged problem. You see, to draft legislation that fixes something, there has to be a problem that needs fixing. Without a problem to accurately characterize, you can't design a solution. This legislation designs no solutions. Guess why.

    January 10, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Tampa Tim

    These idiots in the house put in 100 days a year, make almost $200,000 and have yet to do anything but attack healthcare, attack women's rights, and neglect doing anything to create jobs. $2000 for a 4 hour day for utter incompetence from these congressional baggers.
    ------
    Jeez, Tim... I've not seen such continual rambling on these boards since Wire Palladin used to post here.

    WAIT A SEC... is that you, Wire?

    January 10, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. Gt

    I doesn't matter if the house pass laws or not..Obama and Holder just obey the ones they like anyway....they are like Christians who only obey the commandments they like...

    January 10, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Warren

    And this will accomplish what??

    January 10, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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