Health care

ObamaCare website contractor previously cited over security lapses

Web Exclusive: Owner of the company that built weighs in on why the pricetag for the state and federal ObamaCare exchanges are so high


A technology company that helped build the problem-plagued ObamaCare website was criticized in June for insufficient security controls that jeopardized the personal data of millions of Medicare beneficiaries.

A report by the Health and Human Services inspector general found that lax safety protocols at Quality Software Services, Inc. allowed its employees to attach unauthorized USB devices to Medicare systems that had access to Medicare patients' personal data, The Hill reported.

The report concluded that the information of more than 6 million Medicare beneficiaries was at "greater risk from malware, inappropriate access or theft" as a result of the unhindered access to USB ports. Investigators assigned a risk ranking of "high" to its finding.

The technical problems that have plagued the rollout of have been compounded by concerns from some lawmakers and tech experts that the site the proper security measures needed to protect the personal information of consumers.

QSSI, which has been tasked with leading repairs of the website, promised to address concerns raised by federal investigators and revise its policies and procedures for USB devices, according to the report. 

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Meanwhile, the Obama administration is bringing in A-Team of tech experts to fix the problems continuing to prevent Americans from signing up for government-mandated health insurance.

Google, Red Hat and Oracle are loaning the government dozens of their top computer engineers, programmers and site developers to help the Obama administration fix the insurance exchange website.

“As part of the ‘Tech Surge,’ we’ve added key personnel from the government and private sector, including expert engineers and technology managers,” Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said.

Among those rushing to the rescue is Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer from Google, and Greg Gershman, the innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo.

“Michael is onsite working with QSSI, the general contractor, leveraging his experience stabilizing large, high throughput applications to improve’s reliability and performance,” Bataille said.

The White House began pushing its new “tech surge” on Oct. 20, as a response to the numerous software glitches and tech errors on – the online marketplace for people to buy insurance under ObamaCare.

On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Katheen Sebelius deflected charges that the administration misled the American people about being able to keep their health plans under ObamaCare -- claiming that despite thousands of cancellation notices, the White House is keeping its promise.

Sebelius testified at a House hearing that originally was called to address the glitch-ridden ObamaCare website. Sebelius personally apologized for those failures and told lawmakers: "Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible."

Sebelius took the blame for giving the impression that the website was ready for launch before Oct. 1. "I told the president we were ready to go. Clearly, I was wrong," she said.

Sebelius will be on the road Friday, trying to do a little damage control, with a visit to Memphis.

She’s scheduled to promote ObamaCare exchanges by showcasing people helping Memphis-area residents enroll in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.