By Michael A. Memoli
9:36 AM PST, January 10, 2014
WASHINGTON – The House on 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.
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 Obamacare.
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 healthcare 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 healthcare plans through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
On Twitter: @mikememoli
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