A bipartisan group of congressional leaders recently wrote the director of the Tricare military health plan demanding to know what precautions the agency took to prevent patient data breaches by a large health information technology contractor and how it will prevent such loss of sensitive private data in the future.
Lawmakers seek answers on Tricare breach
The letter (PDF) from the leaders of the House panels with jurisdiction over health data, including Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was in reaction to a September data breach at Science Applications International Corporation of personally identifiable and protected health information of an estimated 4.9 million Tricare military clinic and hospital patients.
The "extremely serious and substantial lapse in security" led the members of Congress to demand information from Tricare by Feb. 2 on what the agency is doing to prevent similar leaks.
Among the questions on future security is whether Tricare will require SAIC and other contractors to replace backup tapes—such as those lost in the high-profile September breach—that require physical transportation with a different "more secure and reliable method."
The members of Congress also blasted SAIC, which has received more than $20 billion in federal contracts in the three previous fiscal years, for at least six prior "security incidents" involving the possible release of private health or financial information. They also said SAIC's offer of credit monitoring for the victims of the latest breach was "useless" because it would not protect against medical identity theft or fraudulent health insurance claims.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.