March 14, 2007 - MARKEY CALLS FOR STRONGER PRIVACY PROTECTIONS FOR MEDICAL INFORMATION, IN LIGHT OF WELLPOINT DATA BREACH

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, today made the following statement in response to a report in the New York Times that a unit of WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, cannot account for a compact disc storing vital medical and personal information about 75,000 of its members.

Rep. Markey said, “It is outrageous that such sensitive medical information was carelessly shipped, unencrypted, without any significant privacy safeguards.  Wellpoint not only exposed tens of thousands of patients to the potential that their identity could be stolen, but also that their identity could be discovered, which could be just as damaging, since the missing compact disc contained descriptions of the patients’ medical treatments dating back several years.  When Congress considers legislation to promote the creation of a nationwide health information network, I will once again push for the inclusion of tough privacy and security measures.  The Wellpoint data breach underscores the urgent need for strong federal safeguards, stiff fines for privacy violators and aggressive enforcement to protect patients’ personal medical information.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2007

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