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Hurt introduces ACA privacy bill

Measure to allow non-users to delete profiles

Reps. Robert Hurt, R-Charlottesville, and John Barrow, D-Ga., introduced a bill Monday which would allow users to remove their permanent profile from the website to safeguard their privacy.

H.R. 5610, also known as the Healthcare Consumer Privacy Act, would modify current standards, which keep users’ personal information on the site even if they decide not to purchase a plan.

Concerns about security on escalated this summer after a hacker successfully infiltrated the site and planted potentially harmful malware. Although some fears were subdued when official determined the bug was not harvesting personal information, the possibility of a more malicious attack remains.

The bill’s sponsors cited grievances about the continued weakness of the website’s defenses, even after the attack, as the impetus for the new legislation. According to a Government Accountability Office report they used as evidence, “[W]eaknesses remain both in the processes used for managing information security and privacy as well as the technical implementation of IT security controls.” Under these circumstances, the sponsors say, users who made a profile but never purchased a healthcare plan should be allowed to remove their profiles.

According to Hurt’s press release, the Department of Health and Human Services denied a constituent’s requests to have his profile deleted despite security risks.

“A constituent reached out after he could not remove his profile [...] and when we looked into it on his behalf, we discovered it is not possible,” Hurt said in an interview Thursday. “For those who go on the exchange to check it out and decide they don’t want to purchase the product, they ought to be able to remove their information.”

Hurt hopes to get the bill through the House of Representatives before the end of the year. He does not think they should have any issues.

“It is a simple bipartisan bill,” Hurt said. “We’ve encountered 300-plus bills we’ve sent towards the Senate that have been trashed. … I hope that it will restore a little common sense to the matter [...] It shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Since its conception, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has polarized Democrats and Republicans. Hurt hopes to transcend party lines. Hurt said it is just good policy to introduce bipartisan bills, because it increases the likelihood of them getting passed. Hurt said most of the bills he introduces are bipartisan.

“It is what’s expected and what is right for the people we represent,” Hurt said.