Many Democrats support House Obamacare security proposal

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:26pm EST

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill targeting potential security problems with the Obamacare website passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Friday with the support of dozens of Democrats, despite opposition from the White House.

The House voted 291-122 to approve legislation by Republican Representative Joe Pitts that would require the government to notify Americans within two days if their personal information has been compromised on the federal website,, where consumers can shop and buy health insurance.

The bill has little chance of passage in the Democratic-run Senate. But it allowed Republicans to amplify their anti-Obamacare message while letting Democrats go on record as having cast a vote critical of the health care program, in case they think they need it during their campaigns.

Supporters said the proposal was justified because the administration did not properly test the website before launching it on October 1, and the site had suffered from many glitches afterwards.

"Since the disastrous rollout of the website, congressional oversight has uncovered that end-to-end security testing of did not occur before the October 1st launch, and that high-ranking administration officials were told of the security risks before the website went live," Pitts said.

The Obamacare website collects personal data such as names, birth dates, email addresses and other information that criminals could use for a variety of scams.

But opponents of the bill said there had been no security breaches of the website. They denounced the proposal as a scare tactic aimed at undermining President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law by discouraging people from signing up for insurance online.

The Republicans are "trying to address a reality that is not there," Representative Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, said during debate.

Nonetheless, 67 Democrats voted for the measure, a sign of their nervousness over Republican efforts to make the healthcare law and its botched rollout a top issue in midterm elections later this year.

The previous high-water mark for legislation aimed at the Obamacare was 39 Democrats, who supported a bill by Republican Representative Fred Upton in November. It would allow insurance companies to renew and sell inexpensive, limited-coverage policies that have been canceled because they do not meet the standards of the new healthcare law.

So far the Senate has ignored the Upton bill, although some Senate Democrats are supporting a similar version.

The White House issued a statement on Thursday saying there were already extensive rules for safeguarding personal information on the healthcare exchanges.

But Upton, arguing that consumers be notified of personal data breaches within two days, recalled that hackers had attacked Target Corp and compromised up to 40 million credit cards and debit cards before Christmas.

"Would it have been right for Target to sit on that information?" Upton said.

Republicans zeroed in on recent testimony to a congressional committee by the chief information security officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Teresa Fryer.

She told lawmakers that just 10 days before the October 1 launch, she was "unwilling to recommend this site go active," Representative Darrell Issa said during Friday's debate.

Democrats have pointed out that when Fryer testified in mid-December to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she also said there had been "no successful breaches" of the website. This point was underscored in a statement Friday from CMS, the agency that oversaw the Obamacare website rollout.

"To date, there have been no successful security attacks on 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," the CMS statement said.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Karey Van Hall, Bernadette Baum, Andre Grenon and Ken Wills)

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Comments (7)
unionwv wrote:
” …opponents said there had been no security breaches of the website.”

These “opponents” either know nothing about the history of data stolen from websites or they are lying through their teeth.

Competent data security professionals say two things:

1. The website is astonishingly insecure (that is “astonishing” in terms of normal website security practices, not to be expected from Obama’s incredibly incompetent executive cabal).

2. There is no way to know whether data has been stolen at this time. The “thieftracks”, if any, will appear over months and years.

Jan 10, 2014 11:56am EST  --  Report as abuse
Chrissycrunch wrote:
Assuming you really don’t know what it was sexist and offensive… Here goes: You said you understand why GOT has nudity. Because they are trying to excite the viewer. How did you come to understand that- in terms of interpreting it as a piece of ‘art’? By your own titillation? Or by a formulaic expression of culturally understood TV in a general ‘norms’ way? So, like, “I see hot chick and hot chick is naked doing things hot naked chicks do on TV because that’s what chicks on TV look like when naked.”

If the former, then what you are saying to Dunham is that you don’t understand her purpose, as an artist, because you are not titillated by her. Which, she’s saying, is okay- you aren’t into her. Offensive, get it? Like, “Hey, I’d get it if you looked like the chick on GOT”… Or even Jemima… But you?

If the reason you ‘get it’ on GOT is more the cultural angle, then you are admitting that Girls is doing something new and different and not adhering to the cultural norm of sexually titillating television. That in and of itself is a reason to do it in the first place, and you should be able to understand that as a TV critic and not be confused by something groundbreaking, even if it doesn’t make your dick hard.

But Dunham is not saying that’s why she’s doing it. She’s saying she’s doing it because that’s what her character would do. Because her character is young and living in NY and lots of the show is depicting people in their relationships and apartments. Which is, obviously, true.

My view is the reason people say things like you did is she does not look like the chicks on SATC. (And note, Carrie never got naked on a show about sex, with sex in the title. She never even bared her tits, even going so far as to wear bras to bed. Which is ridiculous, but ok, her choice. Did you ever ask her why she wasn’t naked? Point out to her that it was contradictory to her character and show?

If Dunham adhered to the TV rules and hired an actress who looked like Samantha, or herself used good lighting, best clothing, and typical sexy-girl moves, no one would ever ask about it or even notice much.

Back to my very first sentence: I have a hard time believing you don’t get it. In terms of being a critic. Because that would be kind of dumb, and doubt you are. It’s subversive. That you asked at all proves it.

Jan 10, 2014 11:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
Chrissycrunch wrote:
Hey, there you go, White House! No gridlock here! Bipartisanship at it’s best, right? We’ve all been waiting for Congress to get back to work, get things done! Here you go.

Jan 10, 2014 12:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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