U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski is no fan of the Affordable Care Act.
But those applying for coverage via the online health exchange should be safe from identity theft, she maintains, and to that end Walorski on Friday, Jan. 10, voted for the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act. The measure, which House lawmakers passed 291-122, requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to notify those who use the exchange if their personal information is stolen or unlawfully accessed.
“This really shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Walorski said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C., after voting for the bill. “It’s doing what we’ve asked the private sector to do.”
Those who created the federal online exchange at healthcare.gov — a key element of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare — didn’t create sufficient safeguards for the public to start with, she said, and the bill stems from that. HHS reps would be required to notify those whose personal information is breached within two days of discovering such occurrences.
“As Hoosiers attempt to enroll in the health care exchange, they deserve to know their most personal information is safe from identity theft and security breaches,” Walorski said in a statement. “Security measures for this national online health care program should have been the administration’s top priority before opening enrollment.”
Some Democrat Party leaders have maintained that the bill was “a ‘messaging’ vote meant to discourage people” from signing up for coverage on the exchange, reported The Hill. Still, it received backing from 67 Democrats, though the Hill reported that Senate Democrats won’t likely take up the measure.
Walorski, an Elkhart Republican who’s repeatedly criticized Obamacare, toured the 2nd District last summer with Indiana Attorney General’s Office reps to warn seniors of scammers. She cautioned at the time against fraudsters using the rollout of healthcare.gov to steal personal information from would-be applicants for coverage.
DONNELLY LAUDS TREASURY DECISION
In related news, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly praised the U.S. Treasury Department decision Friday to “generally” exempt volunteer firefighters from being considered full-time workers per dictates of Obamacare.
Donnelly, a Democrat, and Walorski had both expressed concern that volunteer firefighters would be considered full-time workers, potentially requiring volunteer fire departments under certain scenarios to provide health insurance, boosting costs.
“As we saw during the recent snowstorms and severely cold weather in Indiana, volunteer firefighters and other first responders who donate their time to serve Hoosiers are an essential part of our communities,” said Donnelly. “It is important that fire departments are able to distinguish between full-time, paid emergency personnel and volunteer personnel so they can keep costs low and services at full capacity.”