A Product Offered by Government that Doesn’t Work: a Feature or a Bug?

Officials Knew Of “High Risk” Security Flaws Before HealthCare.Gov’s Launch

Early in September, HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan admitted he was beginning to worry about the upcoming enrollment season due to concerns related to technical problems and increased premiums. The New York Times quoted the former head of Connecticut’s state exchange as saying:

“In some respects, it[upcoming enrollment period]’s going to be more complicated. Part of me thinks that this year is going to make last year look like the good old days.”

Now, Judicial Watch claims 94 pages of documents extracted from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prove top ranking Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials were aware of HealthCare.gov’s technical problems and massive security risks prior to the site’s launch. Some of these risks included failure to secure consumers’ data confidentiality.

Regardless of whether they tried to act on what they knew, the enrollment period kicked in and millions of Americans were encouraged to buy their plans through the federal exchange, thus having their personal information exposed to several security flaws.

The public was forced to remain in the dark as to how problematic the website really was while actively participating in the exchange process. Judicial Watch’s access to the information – which was the result of a lawsuit filed against the HHS – also opened another can of worms kept under wraps by the Obama Administration until now:

“Also released to Judicial Watch were “Sensitive Information – Special Handling” memos sent from CMS to Mitre Corporation, the Healthcare.gov security testing company, in which CMS rated “political … damage” and “public embarrassment to CMS” as factors in defining “Risk Rating” priorities.”

Could this possibly get any worse?

The agency responsible for the administration of health care programs meant to help and look after the poorest and neediest of Americans decided to prevent the public from having access to important information regarding patients’ security, and in the name of what precisely? Government officials. After all, why not put a few million Americans at risk of having their sensitive information exposed to hackers so that CMS can keep its officials from suffering from “public embarrassment?”

When CBS first reported on the potential for HealthCare.gov security flaws in September of 2013, it did so by referring to a memo released by the House Government Oversight Committee. While the document indicated a “threat and risk potential” of “limitless” proportions, it failed to actually name the risks. CMS justified the lack of details with an innocuous rationale by simply stating the memo had been redacted for “security reasons.”

When it comes to the security and well-being of Americans across the country, federal agencies prefer to keep the public in the dark by refusing to admit failure.

Don’t American taxpayers deserve better treatment from their officials? I happen to think so, erspecially if you consider the HealthCare.gov fiasco cost them over $1 billion.

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