EXCLUSIVE -- Mr. President, Tear Down This Website

Many Americans have experienced the ill effects of Obamacare. That’s because the President’s broken promises are piling up. He promised that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. But for millions of Americans, that’s not true.

He said that the law would make health insurance more affordable. But across the country, Americans are seeing their premiums go up, not down. And when launching Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration said that the website was safe, secure and open for business. We now know that isn’t true, either.

The data obtained by Healthcare.gov is one of the largest collections of personal information ever assembled. It links information between seven different federal agencies and state agencies and government contractors.

The website requires users to provide personal information like birth dates, social security numbers, and household incomes in order to obtain information about potential health coverage. But security experts have expressed concern about flaws in the site that put this personal data at risk and subject users to the threat of identity theft.

This week, the Science Committee, which I chair, held a hearing to examine security and privacy concerns about the Obamacare website. We heard from witnesses outside the government who are experts in cybersecurity and hacking websites. They provided a convincing evidence of the vulnerabilities that underlie Healthcare.gov.

One of our witnesses, David Kennedy, is a “white hat hacker,” who is hired by companies around the world to test the security of their online systems by essentially hacking their websites. During the hearing, Mr. Kennedy gave a demonstration of the healthcare.gov website’s vulnerabilities showing in real-time that hackers can access personal information on the website. It’s clear that not only is the website vulnerable, it’s under attack.

When asked whether he believed the website had already been compromised by hackers, Mr. Kennedy testified that he believed the website has either already been hacked or soon will be.  

The massive amount of personal information collected by the Healthcare.gov website creates a tempting target for scam artists. Identity theft jeopardizes credit ratings and personal finances. 

Here are some real-life examples of people who have already had misfortune after using the Obamacare website. Mr. Thomas Dougall of South Carolina received a surprise phone call from a stranger one Friday evening explaining that he had just downloaded a letter off the Healthcare.gov website containing Dougall’s personal information. 

And when Lisa Martinson of Missouri called Healthcare.gov’s customer service after forgetting her password, she was told three different people were given access to her account, address and social security number.

Aside from technological vulnerabilities, it turns out that federal employees—called navigators—who help users apply for insurance on the Healthcare.gov website have not received background checks. Yet they are able to access the personal information of thousands of people.

These threats to Americans’ well-being and financial security should make us question the future of Obamacare. Perhaps it is time to take Obamacare off of life support. Americans deserve a healthcare system that works and that they can trust. 

The Obama administration has a responsibility to ensure that the personal and financial data collected by the government is secure. It is clear that is not the case today. In their haste to launch Healthcare.gov, it appears the administration cut corners that leave the site open to hackers and other online criminals. 

Given the distressing testimony we heard at the Science Committee’s hearing about Healthcare.gov, there is only one reasonable course of action. Mr. President, take down this website.

Congressman Lamar Smith represents the 21st District of Texas and chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.


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