Sebelius Claims Obamacare Data Hub Has 'Worked Beautifully'
Though the Obamacare data hub has experienced outages that have sometimes lasted for days since the Obamacare launch and may be vulnerable to hackers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Wednesday that the data hub "has worked beautifully from start to finish."
Sebelius made her remarks before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, drawing the ire of Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who said he could not pay for his Obamacare plan due to HealthCare.Gov failures. He wondered how many doctors would not be paid for their services if more Americans like him cannot, because of website malfunctions, pay for their Obamacare plans before the December 23 deadline.
Furthermore, he stated that he has never seen a business make it so difficult for a consumer to purchase a product as the government has with Obamacare. Burgess also leveled the accusation that Sebelius already knew about the HealthCare.Gov problems when she testified before the House in April but chose to mislead Congress about the preparedness of the website.
In October, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noticed that the Federal Data Services Hub (Hub), which connects seven different government agencies and establishes "new access points to the sensitive personal information of the American public," can make Americans "even more vulnerable to devastating attacks on [their] personal information, and the administration is doing too little about it."
"Social Security numbers, employment information, birth dates, health records and tax returns are among the personal data that will be transmitted to this hub, consolidating an unprecedented amount of information," Rogers wrote in October. "Every shred of data one would need to steal your identity or access your confidential credit information would be available at the fingertips of a skilled hacker, producing a staggering security threat."
Rogers also noted that the "Office of the Inspector General (OIG) flagged several critical tasks that remained to be completed in their most recent report in August, creating real concerns that the Hub had not been properly tested before it went live on October 1." He mentioned, too, that "within the first few days of operation, thousands of Social Security numbers were accidentally emailed to an insurance broker," while "exchanges immediately began experiencing technical difficulties as enrollment began and information technology experts have pointed to the hastily constructed software design as a leading cause."
A "white-hat" hacker, David Kennedy, who tests the vulnerability of various websites, added to the credibility of a security threat. He recently told Fox News that the data hub was vulnerable to hackers.
"The data hub actually access a kind of intermediary conduit to pull that information from different areas. If the hacker can get control of that, they can get access to other databases and potentially expose other government agencies as well," he said. "Scott White, who is a researcher for us as well as myself, did a lot of analysis on the website itself and found that you can basically hack the website, get access of it, and start to take key components of the web site itself, as well as extract a lot of sensitive information about people who have registered for it."