02.06.15

Alexander, Murray Announce Oversight Initiative on Security of Health IT

Health Committee leaders launch effort to identify steps Congress can take to help protect electronic health information and ensure preparedness against cyber threats

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 6 –U.S. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced a bipartisan initiative focused on examining the security of health information technology and the health industry’s preparedness for cyber threats.

Alexander: “Patients, hospitals, insurers—and all Americans who value the safety and privacy of their sensitive personal information—have a right to be alarmed by reports that their electronic records might be vulnerable to a cyber attack. I look forward to working with Sen. Murray as we take a serious look at how these types of attacks may be prevented and examine whether Congress can help.”

Murray: “We should be doing everything we can to make sure that personal and private information is protected from the growing threat of cyberattacks, and this is especially true when it comes to health care. I’m pleased to be working with Sen. Alexander on finding ways to keep personal information in our health care system safe and secure.”   

The goal of the Alexander-Murray initiative is to examine whether Congress can help ensure the safety of health information technology, including electronic health records, hospital networks, insurance records, and network-connected medical devices, like pacemakers and continuous glucose monitors.

Begun last month, the ongoing staff meetings will include participants from relevant government oversight agencies, independent cybersecurity experts, health industry leaders and others.

The senators’ announcement comes after news that Anthem Health Insurance, the second largest health insurer in the United States, was the victim of a hacker attack Thursday, exposing millions of customer records—including names, addresses, birthdays and Social Security numbers.

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