Share This Page

McConnell urges delay of health care exchanges

| Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Monday called on the Obama administration to delay the Oct. 1 opening of exchanges in which uninsured Americans will be able to buy health insurance until the government can guarantee the protection of people's personal data.

The exchanges, a key element of the president's signature 2010 health care law, will be largely online.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency taking the lead in implementing the law, McConnell said, “Americans should not be forced into the exchanges, and certainly not without these assurances” that personal and financial data will be safe from “hackers and cyber criminals.”

“If you rush to go forward without adequate safeguards in place,” McConnell added, “any theft of personal information from constituents will be the result of your rush to implement a law to meet the agency's political needs and not the operational needs of the people it is supposed to serve.”

Concerns about data security arose last week when the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report saying CMS had missed several self-imposed deadlines for testing the security of the information technology that will power the insurance exchanges being set up in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. CMS is part of HHS.

As a result of the delays, a ruling by HHS' chief information officer certifying the security of the federal information technology system will be pushed to Sept. 30, a day before enrollment under the measure is due to start.

The delay in testing and certifying information technology security, experts said, could allow the exchanges to open with security flaws or force them to postpone when they begin to enroll people in health insurance.

McConnell faces pressure from some conservative Republicans who are threatening a government shutdown on Oct. 1 unless legislation is enacted to deny federal funding for the health care law.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.