WASHINGTON – The House Friday passed legislation that would require the Obama administration to notify individuals whose personal information may be compromised in the event of a data breach on the federal health website.
After taking multiple votes in 2013 to curtail or repeal the Affordable Care Act, the latest proposal was a far more modest offering by the Republican majority. It drew 67 Democratic votes, one of the highest to date for a Republican-backed bill about the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans said the legislation was necessary because of security concerns raised during the rocky rollout of the online exchanges in the fall, though there is no evidence of widespread problems with data security. Bill sponsors also cited the recent breach of consumers’ data at Target stores, and security firms’ warnings that the health care industry is particularly susceptible.
“Those who chose to go on the website of a retailer in the private sector do so at their choice,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said during a brief floor debate. But he noted that the new health law is requiring many Americans who do not receive insurance through their employers to obtain coverage through the troubled exchanges.
Democratic leaders encouraged members to oppose the bill, which they said represented the 47th vote by House Republicans to repeal or undermine the president’s health law. Instead they said lawmakers should focus on legislation to boost the economy.
The Obama administration also said it opposed the bill, warning it would impose burdensome paperwork requirements on the Health and Human Services Department. But it stopped short of issuing a veto threat, as it previously has issued for most of the House-sponsored legislation about the health law.
The House plans to vote next week on another bill that would require the administration to provide regular and specific updates on the number of Americans who have enrolled in health care plans through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
In another development, CGI Federal of Ottawa, Ont., will stop its work on the troubled federal health insurance exchange when its contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expires at the end of February, the company said Friday.
CGI was the largest contractor working on the complex online enrollment system, which barely functioned when the HealthCare.gov website went live at the beginning of October. The company has played a role in the effort to repair the site.
Linda F. Odorisio, a spokeswoman for CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group of Montreal, rejected suggestions that CGI had effectively been fired by the government, and said the company decided not to take up an option to maintain the contract for the next two years beginning in March.
“The joint decision comes at a time when HealthCare.gov is performing well, due largely to CGI’s key role during the ‘tech surge,’?” Odorisio wrote in an email. “We are proud that more than 400 CGI employees worked around the clock from October through December to deliver a consumer experience that works for a vast majority of Americans.”
The end of CGI’s role was first reported by the Washington Post.
A person familiar with the situation said the government will award the maintenance contract, which is worth about $90 million, to Accenture, a large consulting firm that often subcontracts projects to CGI.