WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House voted overwhelmingly Friday to bolt new security requirements onto President Barack Obama’s health care law, with 67 Democrats breaking ranks to join with the GOP. It was the first skirmish of what is certain to be a long and contentious election-year fight.
The vote was 291-122 with Republicans relentlessly focusing on “Obamacare,” convinced Americans’ unease with the troubled law will translate into significant election gains in November. Dozens of Democrats, nervous about their re-election chances or their campaigns for other offices, voted for the GOP bill.
“Americans have the right to know if the president’s health care law has put their personal information at risk, and today’s bipartisan vote reflects that concern,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Among the Democrats joining the Republicans was Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of his party’s campaign committee dedicated to electing Democrats.
“I voted for this bill because I want to make sure confidential information is protected. That’s just common sense,” Israel said in a statement. “This is an added consumer safeguard on top of the many consumer protections in the law that already exist.”
The bill would require the secretary of health and human services to notify an individual within two business days of any security breach involving personal data provided to the government through the health care website HealthCare.gov.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the administration opposes the measure as an unnecessary and costly burden. He said the government already imposes stringent security standards, uses sensors and other tools to deter unauthorized access and conducts regular testing. He said Americans will be notified if personal information has been compromised.
Several House Democrats said the measure was a GOP message bill designed to scare people away from enrolling in coverage.
The bill stands no chance for final approval in the Democratic-led Senate.