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Public Statements

Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that Republicans are using out-of-context quotes from an administration, or from administration officials, to mislead the public about the security of, the Web site.

The same official they keep quoting went on to say:

The added protections that we have put into place are best practices above and beyond what is usually recommended. And no Web site is 100 percent secure. But this effort to scare people from signing up for coverage is simply wrong.

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the bill before the House today is simply an effort by Republicans to continue to impede the efforts of implementing the Affordable Care Act by instilling misinformation and fear in the American public. It is an egregious bill that would, in my opinion--let me point this out, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, I was in the Rules Committee, and I pointed out that, to some extent, I was pleased, I guess, that I don't see the Republicans actually coming to the floor today to act on another repeal or outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I mean, we are not seeing that. We didn't see it in Rules. And hopefully, I will say to my colleague, the chairman of the Health Subcommittee, that we don't see it again, either in the committee, in Rules, or on the floor.

So maybe there is some progress here, and at least the Republicans are not out there trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act anymore--at least I hope so.

But they are now moving to these other methods of trying to put fear in the public so that they don't sign up or they don't go on the Web site. And the fact of the matter is that these security measures that they are talking about are addressing a reality that is not there.

Do I think that security measures are critical for the Web site?

Yes, absolutely. But let's recap the last few years since the ACA passed. Republicans claim the ACA kills jobs; but since the law has passed, we have added nearly 8 million jobs.

Republicans claim that the ACA causes health costs to increase, but the last 4 years we have seen the slowest health care cost growth in 50 years.

Republicans claim we need to address the deficit;

yet they repeal the law at every turn, which increases the deficit by over $1.5 trillion.

Well, now they say that is going to result in widespread breaches of people's personal information, and that is simply not true. There have been no successful security attacks on, and no one has maliciously accessed personal information.

No Web site, public or private, is 100 percent secure, but is subject to strict security standards. It is constantly monitored and tested, and its security and privacy protections go beyond Federal IT standards.

And the Health and Human Services Department has standards in place, just like every other government agency, to notify individuals if their personal information is breached.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is important that I note for everyone that House Democrats have always previously supported legislation to require consumer notification in the event of a breach of government and private sector computer systems. We still do.

By expressing concern for the mockery of this bill, it does not mean that I don't support requiring the administration to notify individuals of breaches of their information, but this not is a serious effort to strengthen privacy laws or to strengthen the health care Web site.

The Republican strategy is to scare people away from going to the Web site and signing up for health care, and I urge Members and the American public, do not be fooled by what they are doing.

It is a good thing that they are not seeking to outright repeal the Affordable Care Act anymore, at least that appears to be the case, based on what happened in Rules the other night. But that doesn't mean that they are not going to continue with these efforts to try to make hay over security and other matters.

And I can't stress enough that every one of the scare tactics they use, whether it is saying that the ACA is going to increase the deficit, which it doesn't, it actually decreases the deficit; or whether they say that it is going to increase health costs, which we know it doesn't, it actually decreases health costs.

This is just another one of those scare tactics. And I just hope that my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are not fooled by this.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, Republicans continue to attack the Web site, www.healthcareÐ.gov, and this attack on the security of the Web site is just the latest in a long line of scare tactics attempting to limit enrollment and coverage under the ACA.

It just bothers me so much because, as you know now, we have about 6 million people who have obtained coverage, 2.1 million receive private insurance through the Web site, and things really are moving now in terms of more and more people signing up and getting coverage.

I just wish that, rather than using scare tactics and trying to talk about security concerns that don't exist, they would focus and work with us at actually trying to sign people up to get people to have health insurance, which is the goal, of course, of the Affordable Care Act.

The bill suggests that there are serious security problems with, but this unique requirement doesn't apply to other government Web sites or to private Web sites. Under the bill, HHS is required to notify individuals within 2 business days if their personally identifiable information is known to be stolen or unlawfully accessed from a marketplace computer system. If this is a good idea, then why is the GOP bill limiting this requirement to only marketplace Web sites? It is just a missed opportunity.

Democrats firmly support strong data security and breach notification legislation. If the Republicans were serious about the security of personally identifiable information on the Web, instead of bringing up this bill, they could have reached out to Democrats and developed a bipartisan bill.

Indeed, when Democrats were in the majority, the Democrat-run House passed bipartisan legislation to provide for consumer notification in the event of a breach, which was introduced in the previous Congress. And the Republicans are still playing political games. If they want to work with us to bring to the floor serious bipartisan data security breach notification legislation, then they should simply do it.

In the Rules Committee the other day, one of the members asked, on the Republican side, if the administration has a position on the bill. And the administration clearly opposes the bill. They put out an SAP which states:

The Administration believes Americans' personally identifiable information should be protected wherever it resides, and that all Americans deserve to know if that information has been improperly exposed ..... The Federal Government has already put in place an effective and efficient system for securing personally identifiable information in the Health Insurance Marketplaces.

So they oppose the passage of this bill.

I just wish I could convince my colleagues--again, I am happy that this is not an outright repeal and that we are not wasting time on that, but we are still wasting time with this notion of the security breach that hasn't happened when security measures are already in place.

Again, this is being brought up in the first week we are back with no effort to reach out to us in any way to try to deal with this. It has a 2-day notification requirement, which is simply not workable.

I cannot stress enough that we, as Democrats, would like to address this issue, but it is not being addressed. It is just being done as a way of trying to scare the public from signing up on the Web site, which is so unfortunate because people want to sign up. They shouldn't be in fear that, if they sign up, somehow there is going to be a security breach.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, once again I hear my colleagues on the other side repeating the same things that are not accurate. You do not have to go on to sign up for health insurance. Mr. Waxman said you can go to a private insurance broker or call an 800 number. You can go through various nonprofits. They keep repeating the same thing, and we keep having to say that there have been no breaches.

The gentleman mentioned the administration. The administration statement, which I read before and I will only summarize part of it now, it says that the Federal Government has already put in place an effective and efficient system for securing personally identifiable information in the health insurance marketplace. The administration opposes the bill because it would create unrealistic and costly paperwork requirements that do not improve the safety or security of personally identifiable information in the health insurance marketplace. The purpose of the bill I understand; but it is simply not necessary, and it is just making people fearful of signing up.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I just want to say, again, I am not saying that I am opposed to some kind of security notification. In fact, it already exists and there is a protocol in place with the Department of Health and Human Services. The point is that this Republican bill is simply not necessary. That security already exists.

The fact of the matter is there have not been any security breaches. Once again, we are simply seeing the Republicans get up and try to scare people so that they don't go and use, the Web site.

What we would really like to see, Mr. Speaker, is the day when, on both sides of the aisle here, we can simply get up and talk about legislation that continues to provide outreach and encourage people to sign up for the Web site and get the health insurance that they need. I still honestly believe that most Republicans and Democrats collectively would like to see most Americans covered with health insurance. That was the purpose of the Affordable Care Act.

I think my one optimistic note today could be at least we are not seeing another bill on the floor that would seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Hopefully, that is some recognition on the Republican side that the Affordable Care Act is actually accomplishing its goal of trying to cover most Americans, if not all Americans.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this unnecessary bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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