Security concerns jeopardize October opening of health insurance marketplaces

digital medical records

The opening of the health insurance marketplaces in October – key to Obamacare – is in jeopardy because of looming questions about information security. The problem stems from tight deadlines that must be met to ensure the security of data moving through an information system that supports the marketplaces, sometimes referred to as exchanges, according to a new government watchdog report.

At a cost of $394 million, the federal data-services hub will route requests from the marketplaces to existing federal and state databases.

The Obama administration had expected Tony Trenkle, the chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to decide Sept. 4 whether information routed through the hub was secure from hackers and identity thieves. But a new report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services says that decision now is expected Sept. 30, only a day before open enrollment on the marketplaces is scheduled to begin.

Any further delays, the report said, mean the chief information officer may not have enough time to gauge the security of data transfers. The Obama administration and private contractors are testing the data hub for defects and vulnerabilities, but a draft report with the results of the testing isn’t due until Sept. 20, the report noted.

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h/t Tom R

      
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