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October 24, 2014

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Titus, Horsford among Dems voting for health exchange security notifications

Congresswoman Dina Titus

Congresswoman Dina Titus

Steven Horsford

Steven Horsford

For most House Democrats, the one-sentence change to the health care law requiring the government to promptly disclose any security breaches of Healthcare.gov was too much of an attack on President Barack Obama’s healthcare law to support.

But for Nevada Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, it was a no-brainer.

“Consistent with many other votes he has taken, Rep. Horsford voted to protect and safeguard the personal information of Nevada health care consumers,” Horsford spokesman Tim Hogan said Friday, after Horsford voted in favor of the measure.

In a statement issued today, Titus said, “While there have been no security breaches to date and the federal government has taken significant steps to ensure the safety of Healthcare.gov, it is important for people to be notified in the rare case that personal information is compromised.”

The bill, which passed the House 291 to 122, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to notify any person whose personal information may have been compromised within two business days.

Security experts have criticized Healthcare.gov for being too susceptible to hacking and have been explaining the risk to House and Senate committees since shortly after the site was launched.

Healthcare.gov processes information including Social Security, bank and credit card numbers and people’s medical histories.

Security flaws are just some of the myriad technical difficulties the administration experienced with the website, which was launched after minimal testing in October. Obama administration officials and contractors have been working overtime to correct the bugs, but many security experts warn that privacy gaps remain a significant problem.

Nonetheless, many Democrats dismissed Friday’s bill as a politically motivated scare tactic.

While the White House didn’t go so far as to threaten to veto the legislation, it pushed back against the two-day reporting requirement “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,” according to a White House policy statement.

The administration said a legal requirement to disclose every breach would be “expensive and unnecessary,” because some information processed on the website is publicly available and not every breach would potentially cause harm to the affected individuals.

In that environment, 122 Democrats joined the White House and voted against the bill Friday, while 67 — including Horsford and Titus — supported it.

Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei also voted for the legislation. Rep. Joe Heck was not present for the vote.

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