Attorney General Morrisey Releases Statement About White House Consumer Privacy Meeting
CHARLESTON - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement about a meeting that took place today at the White House to discuss preventing, protecting against and, if necessary, prosecuting consumer fraud and privacy violations in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The meeting was attended by White House officials and others, including U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
"Several weeks ago, 12 state attorneys general and I sent a letter to the Obama Administration and Secretary Sebelius highlighting our very serious concerns about the lack of consumer privacy protections in the federal rules implementing Obamacare. We warned about the risk of private consumer information falling into the wrong hands and raised questions about who would be responsible when, not if, that happens. Our letter was never answered.
"I am definitely heartened to see that top Obama Administration officials are now at least talking about the need to ensure consumer privacy is protected and acknowledging our concerns. And I hope that this new focus means the Administration will respond to our pending FOIA request relative to these issues tomorrow - when they are required by statute to do so. Nevertheless, the steps they discussed today do not adequately protect consumers before private information is potentially misused or misappropriated. Having call centers take complaints from consumers and establishing a rapid response mechanism for addressing privacy and cyber security threats is a positive step, but it does little to prevent the problems from happening in the first place. I also hope the Administration answers the same question 12 state attorneys general and I have consistently asked: How will American consumers know the difference between an Obamacare navigator and a scammer? There are only 13 days remaining before open enrollment begins. These last second, desperate steps show just how far behind the Administration is on implementing Obamacare.
“Once a consumer's privacy is violated, there really is little that can be done to reverse the damage. Our federal government needs to realize that citizens need to be able to trust the men and women to whom they are giving their personal information. Steps need to be taken on the front end to ensure that those people collecting the data, and the systems they use, are above reproach and worthy of the faith we are placing on them to do the right thing."