WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Mark Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) launched a bipartisan working group to examine and propose potential legislative solutions in the HELP Committee jurisdiction to strengthen cybersecurity in the health care and public health sector. This effort comes at a time of record cybersecurity attacks on health care entities. Health records, unlike other personal records like credit card numbers, are more valuable on the black market since health conditions are permanent and cannot be reissued.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a record 89 million Americans have already had their health information breached, more than double since last year. These cyberattacks severely impact health care operations, costing an average of $10 million per breach and leading to an interruption or long-term delay in care. Last year in Louisiana, hackers compromised almost 270,000 personal records, including health information.
“We are seeing a disturbing rise in cyberattacks on our health care system. These attacks not only put patients’ sensitive health data at risk but can delay life-saving care,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Just like a strong military and police force defends us against physical attacks, we must ensure health institutions can safeguard against increasing cyber threats and protect Americans’ crucial health data.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am acutely aware of the most serious threats facing our country, and I know that shoring up our cybersecurity is one of the best tools we have to protect ourselves and our sensitive materials. In no industry is this more obvious and important than health care, where such care is increasingly connected and even a brief period of interruption can have life and death consequences. I am proud to launch this bipartisan group to build on the policy options I have been exploring and better improve our cybersecurity through legislative fixes,” said Senator Warner.
“Cyberattacks on health care organizations threaten the security of patients’ private medical information and can interrupt the delivery of critical care,” said Senator Cornyn. “I am eager to join my colleagues in looking for solutions that shield our health care institutions and Americans from these dangerous crimes.”
“Hospitals and doctor’s offices are increasingly facing cyberattacks that threaten to expose patients’ medical information and even shut down ERs,” said Senator Hassan. “This is a particularly pressing challenge for rural doctors and hospitals, which often don’t have the resources necessary to protect against these threats. I am glad to join this bipartisan working group to find effective, commonsense ways to protect medical providers and patients from cyberattacks.”