Policy

House Will Vote on Obamacare Security Bill Next Week

Cantor told GOP lawmakers to expect a vote next week on another Obamacare-related measure. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans will kick off the second session of the 113th Congress next week by voting on another bill to undercut the president's health care law.

In a memo sent to Republican colleagues on Thursday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced that the chamber would take up a measure next week to "strengthen security requirements" on the error-plagued HealthCare.gov website and "require prompt notification in the event of a breach involving personal information."

"American families have enough to worry about as we enter the new year without having to wonder if they can trust the government to inform them when their personal information — entered into a government mandated website — has been compromised," Cantor added.

Republican chairmen for four Congressional committees — Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chief among them — have spent considerable time and effort in recent weeks trying to prove that administration officials overlooked or flat-out ignored warnings that the security infrastructure of HealthCare.gov had vulnerabilities. Now, House GOP leaders are riding the wave of public outcry over these reports to schedule a vote on related legislation.

"To date, the Administration has downplayed the risk of a data breach, perhaps in part because their primary goal is signing people up for insurance through the Exchange," Cantor told his members in the Thursday memo.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, responsible for the October 2013 launch of the insurance enrollment website, has denied there is any reason for concern.

"As we have said, the HealthCare.gov components that are operational have been determined to be compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act ... based on standards promulgated by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology," CMS said in a statement emailed to CQ Roll Call. "There have been no successful security attacks on HealthCare.gov and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information."

House Democratic leaders, too, are on the offensive against GOP attacks.

"It is clear that the New Year has brought no change in heart for House Republicans. They continue to remain intent on undermining the Affordable Care Act at every turn, and that effort even extends to scaring their constituents from obtaining health coverage," Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "It's time for Republicans to drop the partisan and ideological games, and work with Democrats to strengthen and build upon this historic law."

In mid-October, Republicans were reeling from the negative political fallout of the government shutdown, but they were able to rise quickly from the ashes when they seized on the botched roll-out of the enrollment website, and President Barack Obama's erroneous "if you like it, you can keep it" promise.

House Democrats, who claimed victory after the shutdown, soon found themselves struggling with how to message around the public relations nightmare. Simmering frustration at times roared to a boil and pitted some members against leadership.

And Cantor indicated that Republicans will continue to make life difficult for Democrats when it comes to the health care law.

"In the coming weeks, we will continue to address other areas were greater transparency is demanded, including the disclosure of reliable and complete enrollment data," Cantor wrote to members. "These steps will be part of the overall effort to protect the American people from the harmful effects of Obamacare by ultimately repealing and replacing the law with patient focused reforms that expand access, ensure quality care, and help control costs."